Category: Unsolicited advice


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It was bright day, you are traveling in a fast train full of friends and acquaintances. Everyone is laughing and having a good time. One guy stands up and calls for everyone’s attention. When everything falls silent, he tells them that he has evidence there is danger ahead. Not too far down the line, the train will go across a wide ravine. Hundreds of feet below, the river rages violently. Some of the track is missing and the train is doomed to plunge into the flood below with fatal consequences. Before the train reaches the river; however, it will make one final stop at a station where those who want to can get off. After that it will speed on to its final doom.

After the train pulled into the station, the speaker and a few who understood the risks stepped off. A majority remained, mocking them with impunity. The doors soon closed and the train shuffled off slowly from the station. The crowd inside the train laughed and joked amongst themselves about the “wiseman” and “his flock.” All but one young lady, just staring up at the route map. The train reached full speed. Then she turned anxiously to everyone and said, “I think we made a big mistake. We should have listened to that guy! There’s construction on the bridge ahead according to this route map!” Everyone looked out the right side windows in horror as the train continued around a bend speeding headlong towards the unfinished bridge ahead over the ravine.

The warnings of impending economic collapse are posted everywhere in the open for all to see. Some people choose to mock the messenger. Some people choose to mock those heeding the warnings. Some people choose to simply ignore them. Then there is the issue of opposing messages and messengers. Many in the audience have already lost a lot of money so they’re listening. The big question is who should they listen to?

The very same people who failed to warn of the impending doom are the very ones now selling a bottom and recovery in progress. Do they really deserve to be listened to? Then there are those that called the depression, but are now being dubbed ‘doomers’ and unworthy of serious consideration. Naysayers dub the “doomer’s” success ‘lucky’ but now we should listen to serious financial professionals?! Give me a break.

This economy is in shambles. Bernanke is covering up the BoA/Merrill fiasco and buying US bonds. Meanwhile Congress is on a spending binge while we the taxpayers get soaked. What do they want to do? Pass a healthcare bill that really is a coverup to get cash to pay for their spending habits.

Sharpen the pitchforks, pluck the chickens, heat the tar, and stuff the effigies. Party in DC coming soon!

Turn the Cheek Joe

In my opinion, Joe Stack was a “man of violence.”  I don’t think it’s wise to admire a “man of violence”.  In my view, his response to the governments alleged abuse (in this case he alleges theft of property) was not in keeping with the action.  I will support my view from the only law I view as righteous, the Word of God.

Proverbs 3:31-32 Do not envy a man of violence, And do not choose any of his ways. 32 For the crooked man is an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate with the upright.

It is fruitful to compare the many similarities between David and Joab.  Each man was skilled at killing men, and both had killed many men.  Were they “men of violence?”  David, first and foremost, sought the Lord, trusted the Lord, and loved the Lord.  Why didn’t he kill Saul?  Saul had wronged him many times.  It wasn’t because Saul was his father-in-law.  Rather, it was because Saul was the Lord’s anointed.  It was because of David’s regard for the Lord that he did not resort to violence.

On the other hand, Joab, time after time, resorted to the sword to deal with problems.  Joab was a man of violence.

Proverbs 1:16 For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.

Romans 3:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood;

The earth was destroyed in the day of Noah because “the earth was filled with violence” (Gen 6:11ff). God hates violence.  There is a narrow scope in which it is applied righteously, but it is only because of sin that such skill is necessary.  Beware of spirits which would encourage admiration of a ‘man of violence.’

Matthew 5:38-40You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.

The words of a true radical!  When faced with non-life threatening physical force, do not reply in kind.  When threatened with a petty lawsuit, offer more than simple restitution.

Matthew 5:43-48You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

As Christians, we have a higher calling.  A calling to perfection.  But when can and should one think to use deadly force?

Exodus 22:2-3If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed.

In defending yourself and your family in your home.  Note the underlined part, you can’t go and kill the burglar at a later date!  That’s considered murder.

Nehemiah 4:8-23 describes how the Israelites were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  Carpenters and bricklayers were working and carrying their arms for self-defense.  Read it and then think about it.  The city’s defense, the wall, was in disrepair and made the people subject to possible attack.  The workers worked in an unsafe environment.  It seems reasonable that people have a right to self-defense and to the defense of the others when the situation warrants it.

I have seen a growing militarization of our police force in this country.  I am disturbed by what I witnessed in Waco on television and what I have read occurred at Ruby Ridge to the Weavers.  Many consider those incidents modern-day ‘Boston Massacres.’  There is an emerging, menacing force growing in the hands of government today.  No question.  What should be the just response?  I wish I had the answer.  I feel like I’m living under occupation, like the jews in Germany under Hitler.  Does abiding under the threat of violence from government warrant carrying for the defense of self and others?  I do.

Be Heard!

Do you feel like no one is listening?  Do you feel drowned out by all the special interests?  Or maybe you feel like nobody is paying any attention to issues of concern to you.  You’re right.  Nobody is listening.  The only voices being listened to today are those of lobbyists.  They write the legislation and it is rubber stamped by the bloodsuckers YOU voted for.  It’s time for that to change.  It’s time to be heard!

Last year voters sent strong messages to incumbents in New Jersey and Virginia and it’s time ALL incumbents feel the heat.  Right now, they are busy raising funds for the mid-term elections this November.  They are planning town hall meetings, fundraising dinners, and local speeches.  Plan on attending.  Put together a list of blunt questions.  Pose questions that require a yes or no answer.  And don’t let them dodge it.  Remember they work for YOU.  They want and need YOUR vote.  Be heard by your representatives.

Opinions are shaped by many forces.  A strong force for shaping opinions is the media.  Very few average people are given the opportunity to express their views on television.  TV is the strongest opinion shaping media and it is heavily controlled.  If you ever have the opportunity to express your views on camera, be short and to the point.  Reporters enjoy cogent sound bites.  TV is a powerful means to be heard.

It is important to write or call the media when you see unfair, biased, or inaccurate coverage.  Communicating with journalists who have an agenda can be challenging but worthwhile.  Use facts, not rhetoric.  Document any patterns of bias or inaccuracy and share it with their management.  Don’t attack the journalist personally.  However, do let them know when they have used rhetoric and lack facts.  Setting the record straight can be a fulfilling way to be heard.

Hindsight is a luxury the dead never profit from.  The tragedy at Ft Hood yesterday may have been preventable:  lawfully armed citizens could have intervened; higher surveillance of a suspicious individual, any number of factors could have averted the tragedy.  It is impossible to change the events, but it is not impossible to learn from them.  Terrorists almost always raise suspicions before they strike.

The events of September 11, 2001 demonstrated the capability of radical islamo-fascists to mount and organize attacks inflicting damages (>$40 bn) and loss of life ( >3000) far exceeding the worst natural disasters to strike the United States (Hurricane Andrew >$20 B and nearly 60 lives; Northridge earthquake >$12 B and ~ 25 lives).  The suicide attacks in London on July 7, 2005 evidence an alarming trend towards increased attacks against civilians in western democracies.  One of the most challenging wild cards is the lone wolf terrorist.  Probability theory may prove useful in quantifying the risk of future attack, but probability alone adds no knowledge towards understanding the salient features of human intent, strategy, and paths to victory.

Game theory has evolved as a mathematic discipline to study strategic interaction in competitive and cooperative environments by developing mathematical formulas and algorithms to identify optimal strategies and to predict the outcome (payoff).  In just half a century, game theory has already revolutionized economics and is rapidly spreading to a wide variety of disciplines.  The principles of game theory are useful to gain an understanding of the “strategies” and “payoffs” when applied to acts of terrorism.

To play any game well, a gamer need to be proficient at reversing roles. How would their opponent react if they did X versus Y? Would they understand the real intent or would they read another intention? From Schelling’s book, The Strategy of Conflict:

“If I go downstairs to investigate a noise at night, with a gun in my hand, and find myself face to face with a burglar who has a gun in his hand, there is a danger of an outcome that neither of us desires. Even if he prefers to just leave quietly, and I wish him to, there is danger that he may think I want to shoot, and shoot first.”

In December 1996, Henderson took this other-person’s-shoes approach with a group of Defense Department officials by asking why terrorism exists.

“What leads the Irish Republican Army to put bombs in Britain? Why don’t they, for example, put bombs in Canada or Bangladesh? To ask the question is to answer it. They place the bomb where they think it will help influence the government that makes decisions most directly in the way of their goals, and the governments in the way of their goals are usually governments that intervene in their affairs.”

Henderson concluded, “If you want to avoid acts of terrorism carried out against people in your country, avoid getting involved in the affairs of other countries.”  In short, he suggested refraining from stirring up hornets’ nests.  Major Hassan did not want to deploy, he pursued many avenues to avoid deployment.  His writings gave clues to the level of animosity growing within.  A game theorist like Henderson might recommend not deploying the major or anyone similarly opposed to deploying with the same level of growing animosity.  I don’t know if that type of recommendation would have prevented the tragedy.  I don’t know what that strategy would do to the cohesiveness of the military.  But, I would think an all volunteer Army would be more cohesive when those deploying did so willingly.  People have to volunteer to jump out of planes, why not apply the same logic to deployments?  If you opt out, you are discharged.  If you are discharged early because you owe the government service time for graduate training, such as medical school, or bonus payments, the debt follows you into civilian life.  If, as a result of lack of volunteers, we don’t have the manpower to deploy, maybe the foreign policy needs to be revisited.

The Boogeyman

On more than one occasion, the youngster strained against the urge to look under his bed. Assured by the faint scent of JaBreeze, he sat upright resolute that the smell of a monster would surely overcome the scent of a spray freshener. Quickly however doubt set back in as he realized this was no ordinary spray freshener! He remembered that his mother once bragged that it even killed dust bunnies with ease. The boy wondered. Surely the innocence of the aroma masked a killer chemical capable of untold brutality towards the innocent bunnies that lived under their furniture! The horror! Engrossed now by the very real prospect that a boogeyman may well be under his bed, he struggled to gain courage to look yet again. There was no boogeyman under his bed.

All too often, we read headlines and online threads where friends, brothers, and sisters are struggling under the choking power of fear. We should be reminded that Paul encouraged Timothy to guard against it: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). The spirit of fear is not of God. Fear is unholy. We are to remember also that he added we have been given the spirit of power. The purpose of the spirit of power is to rebuke the spirit of fear. The unholy cannot withstand the righteousness of God’s truth. We are further granted the fruit of the spirit, Love. I think Paul mentioned love therein to remind Timothy that without love, one might rebuke not only the spirit of fear, but the one who is being choked by it. Pointing out another’s sin should be distinct from pointing at the sinner. Remember also that guarding against fear helps to preserve a sound mind.

We are indeed faced with very trying times and should remain on guard. Yet, some would play on our heightened state of alert and fan fears for unknown ill motives. I take heart that Paul reminded us that we followers of Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Nonetheless, Paul assured us in 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9, “7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…”

If the Boogeyman had ANY real power then why is he hiding?

There are certain basic tactics that extend beyond military warfare. In the political realm and in the business realm, these same techniques are used to engage or defend against attack. For example, one basic infantry movement technique is the ‘fire team rush.’ It is an offensive technique that allows for one or more soldiers to advance while others provide suppressive fire upon a fixed enemy position with the goal of taking or knocking out the fixed position. The political equivalent of the ‘fire team rush’ would be a ‘media blitz spin.’ If a news story breaks that portrays an individual or policy in a bad light, it is attacked by supporters in nearly every form of media to counter the weight of the original story and to either defame, obfuscate, or lie to the audience on the real issue at hand. In the business world an entrenched market leading product is attacked by demonstrating ‘head-to-head’ comparative performance. The techniques most commonly employed by opponents are quite revealing. In the coming weeks, I’d ask you to pay attention to the techniques employed by our national leadership as much, if not more, than the actual messages they send. You will have a far greater appreciation for the battle at hand.

There is nothing really remarkable about the appearance of most stones.  They go unnoticed on the roadside, in river beds, and in the field.  Except for the occasional kick out of boredom on our path, they receive little attention.  The farmer only moves them to widen his field.  After all, they are common and of little, if any, value.

 

Much the same is true for a length of rope.  It probably has more value than a common stone.  It took some effort to derive the material and properly twist the strands.  Even still, a length of rope doesn’t exactly, of itself, receive or deserve special attention.  The value of rope is derived from the work it enables.  It is one of the simplest of tools.

 

Put together, the stone and the rope are far more interesting.  A suitably polished stone affixed to a nice length of rope can make an attractive neck ornament.  The stone, if it were of ample size could serve as an anchor affixed by the rope to secure a boat offshore in a light current.  If the rope were configured as a sling, the stone becomes a missile with deadly force capable of toppling the strongest of giants in the right hands.  Combinations of many stones and many ropes cross-woven together provides a casting net capable of catching many fish.  The combinations and permutations are numerous as are the benefits gained therefrom.

 

A pile of stones heaped together serves as a good barrier at best.  Likewise, an unorganized gaggle of rope becomes a tangled, useless, and frustrating knot.  People on their own are not much unlike stones and rope.  It’s when people are combined they become far more interesting.  A lone worker in the field stumbles but a pair can lift one another up.  The greatest sports teams and companies are comprised of a depth and breadth of skilled players each contributing their best towards a common goal, victory.

 

Being a part of the family of God is great because there are many ropes and stones contributing their skills, their ideas, and their gifts towards building one another up.  Christ’s family is truly special.  If you are not a part of this family, you are missing out on participating in a living body, working to truly change the world.  Don’t just be a rock on the roadside.  Take the time to consider joining Christ’s team.

In the midst of fiery trials, miracles occur.  Witness the events before Nebuchadnezzar’s court as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are commanded to bow down before the golden image and they refused.  To punish their impudence, Neb commanded his minions to heat the furnace seven times hotter than ever!  He then ordered his strongest henchmen to bind and cast all three into the fire.

 

Did Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah burn?  No, not a hair was harmed.  Why?  They made a bold declaration of faith:  “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18)”

 

We can face the trials of a failing economy and of an ailing government because we have been promised in Hebrews 13:5 “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?””  Though it be seven times hotter, he will never forsake us.  How bold therefore should our declarations be?

What happens to the economy after public funds have been burned to prop up too-big-to-fail banks?  What future awaits the people left to repay the debt issued on such flawed policy?  For reasons that remain a mystery to me, the markets remain positive.   People still go to the mall and buy on credit.  Morons.

 

Maybe they have an insight I lack or maybe they are just trapped in a crevice where it’s impossible to see through the walls of their intestines.  Nonetheless, the vaunted ‘Stress Tests’ will soon be revealed.  Turbo Timmy’s newest gimmick will of course serve the Fed and Treasury’s interest in addressing market confidence.  Don’t be surprised when the details are revealed if the results are skewed positive with Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy ringing throughout the land.  Since the government feels this is a “crisis of confidence”, you can bet the announcements will declare all is well on every ounce of media bandwidth.  Do not be deceived.  The bandwidth has been hijacked.

iTulip said it best: #mce_temp_url#

“In the vast, raging deluge of falsehoods, fantasies, fabrications, and fake-outs that passes for news in the U.S., the river of informational sewage that collects in drips and spews from ducts and runoff of coin operated media outlets, occasional shimmering snippets of verified truth from immaculately credible sources bob improbably among torrential turd-waves of propaganda, hoopla, and fluff. From a perch at the shore they enter our field of vision and drift by like an immaculate flotilla of shimmering white swans on a river of shit, their incongruous beauty commanding our shocked attention. 

We crane our necks to catch every detail, to savor the vision of purity and grace before it is washed down river to churn out into the deep, green sea of essential knowledge – after decades so polluted by deceit, deception, dishonesty, and distortion that we can no longer see the bottom. Lost and long forgotten, like Garret Garrett’s 1932 global credit bubble classic The Bubble that Broke the World, waiting to be dug up by the next generation of historians after its credit bubble collapses, leading them to ask, “Do we never learn?””

 

My reply:  No.  The dominoes will continue to cascade until the great unwinding has finished and only a cracked shell of our former self will remain, haunting us with the memories of blessings and a greatness we once possessed.