San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Baker's Dozen New Year's Resolutions For You

It is that time of the year again.  You know what I mean.  It is time to make up your list of New Year's resolutions.  Do you have last year's list with you?  If you do, take a look at it.  How many of them were you able to keep?  I would guess that your list included something about losing weight, getting exercise, eating better and being a better person, right?  Maybe you had a resolution on your list in which you resolved to actually do some of your resolutions.  Regardless, the odds are pretty good that you are no different today than you were a year ago.  You probably weigh a little bit more, eat the same foods, engage in the same amount of exercise and display the same personality characteristics.  In other words, you are a total failure.
The Mad Welshman does not like to see, nor does he derive any satisfaction from, the failures of others.  By the way, I have resolved to not refer to myself in the third person in 2016 so allow me to rephrase that last sentence.  I do not derive any satisfaction from watching you fail to keep your resolutions.  In fact, I want you to succeed and that is why I have come up with a list of attainable New Year's resolutions just for you.  Unlike the resolutions you have failed to attain year after year, this list is eminently doable.  Not only that, if you do establish this list as your own I believe you will discover that you will become a much happier person.  The Welsh, if nothing else, are a happy people.  One of the reasons for our natural happiness is the nature of the lifestyle choices we make.  Each of the resolutions listed below are derived from my statistical analysis of how the Welsh people I know live.  So if you want 2016 to be a New Year for you, characterized by wealth, happiness and general good will, adopt this list of resolutions as your own.  If you have limited resources of will power I list them in ascending order of importance.  Therefore you may skip the earlier ones and concentrate on the last couple of resolutions if you really expect to be a failure in 2016.
  1. Take up drinking, but don't get drunk.  This one is so obvious I almost did not put it on the list.  People who drink are happier, more well adjusted and the most fun to be around in social settings.  Alcohol is a drug that God has given to man to make his burden light and his heart merry.  Evangelicals and other kill-joy Christians who despise a genuinely good feeling believe that consuming alcohol is a sin.  They are wrong.  Getting inebriated is a sin, drinking is not.  The Bible contains many verses extolling the virtues and benefits of drinking alcohol.  Did you know that we will drink alcohol in the Eternal State?  Or, to put it more accurately, those who make it to the New Jerusalem rather than the Lake of Fire will consume alcohol once they get there.  If you are a non-drinker you might want to take it up now so you will be prepared for the future.  Not only will you be happier today, you will also be prepared for eternity.
  2. Take up smoking, but don't inhale.  I call this principle "Be Like Bill," in honor of former Socialist Democracy of Amerika King Bill Clinton.  Smokers are in our society what Jews were in Nazi Germany.  There is nothing you can do to them that is too harsh, demeaning or hurtful.  According to the career politicians who rule over us, anyone who uses tobacco products is evil and doomed to hell.  How wrong it all is.  One of the blessings of the New World was the discovery of tobacco.  I bet you were not taught that in the government schools.   Because smoking is on the government's list of most terrible things to do there is an almost total blackout of information about the benefits of smoking.  Go here, here and here for articles about the benefits of smoking.  If you do decide to take up smoking I would recommend you not inhale the smoke.  You can get all of the benefits of the tobacco through the lining of your mouth without taking any of it into your lungs, where it can do some serious damage.  And, like everything else in life, the key is moderation.  You can smoke too much and end up doing more harm than good.  Follow the Golden Mean, however, and you will be fine.  You will also be happier and less prone to many debilitating diseases. 
  3. Take up exercising, but don't become obsessive/compulsive about it.  Every January I have a difficult time going to my gym because it is filled with so many new members.  Sometimes I have to wait in line to use exercise machines that I never have to wait for the rest of the year.  The reason for this state of affairs is obvious...everyone is attempting to fulfill their resolution to get more exercise.  Fortunately it only lasts a couple of weeks and things quickly return to normal.  There are few things in life as good for your body as exercising.  Despite that fact, don't forget that God says, "...bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."  I will get to godliness later on this list.  For now it is enough to know that bodily discipline is of some benefit, when kept in the proper perspective.  Most people never exercise and that is not okay.  Some people exercise like maniacs and that is not okay.  Follow the Golden Mean on exercise and you will be okay and happier.
  4. Eat whatever you want and avoid food fads.  Many people are never able to get off the fad diet roller coaster.  I will let you in on a little secret.  Here it is....there is no secret to losing weight.  It is a simple case of calories consumed versus calories expended.  Don't believe any talk about how eating nothing but kale will make you lose weight.  Neither will eating only grapefruit.  Neither will avoiding gluten.  Neither will avoiding fats and sugars.  Nor will eating bacon exclusively. I know of a fellow who lost weight eating only at McDonald's and not ordering anything green on the menu for an entire year.  Do you know how he did it?  He ate less calories than he consumed.  You can do the same thing.  It does not matter what you eat, just eat less than you burn and you will lose weight. Guaranteed.
  5. Lose your tattoos and never get a new one.  Admit it, as each year goes by you are less and less impressed by your tattoos.  If you have been able to actually make progress in your sense of personal security each year you have no doubt already discovered that the tattoo that was so important a few years ago is now a bit of an embarrassment.  I hope you are not one of those people who has covered his body with those eyesores.  If so, it would be prohibitively expensive to have them removed.  On the other hand, if you are considering getting one, do yourself a favor and put the decision off another year.  If you follow the other resolutions on this list you will find that by the end of the year that tattoo will no longer look like a great idea.
  6. Stop worshiping the military and, by all means, do not join it.  Unless you believe that the endless wars of imperial aggression waged by the SDA are morally justifiable (and I would like to hear your argument if you believe they are) you should not be joining the military.  People who murder others, even if they are stinkin' foreigners who deserve it, are not heroes.  They are murderers.  You do not want to be a murderer.  It takes a lot of courage to go against the overwhelming majority of people  in this militaristic country, especially when everywhere you go you are assaulted with propaganda telling you that soldiers are heroes who keep you free, but you must do it.  Principles are more important than popularity.  
  7. When it comes to the cops, keep your mouth closed, your eyes down and go to your mental happy-place until the tasers and beatings stop. Every day in the new year you will be less secure in your papers, possessions and person.  Every day in the upcoming year you will be more likely to be assaulted by a militarized police force charged with enforcing laws that impinge upon your freedom.  If you should find yourself on the receiving end of a visit from one of the jack-booted thugs who represents the law enforcement apparatus of the SDA, follow the advice above.  Consider yourself to be the social equivalent of a Jew in Nazi Germany or a black man in the pre-civil rights south.  If you are Welsh you do not have to do anything.  You are already  accustomed to being exploited by every other powerful social class that you live among.  
  8. Open a stock mutual fund and put some money into it.  A couple of weeks ago I posted a piece to this blog, found here, about how simply opening an  account with a stock mutual fund and allowing it to sit year after year, without attempting to predict the future or do any fancy market timing, is a guaranteed pathway to financial prosperity.  Go back and read that post if you do not believe me.  But you will never build a nest egg if you don't start.  And if you haven't started this year, be sure and start in 2016.  The best time to open your investment account is yesterday.  The worst time to open it is tomorrow.  Get started today.
  9. Put more money into your stock mutual fund.  Then, put in some more. The reason so many people are broke is the simple fact that most people are materialists who are unwilling to forego present consumption for future consumption.  Most people want all sorts of shiny stuff and they want it today, whether they have the money on hand to pay for it or not.  I have a name for those pitiable folks......lost souls.  If you are a materialist there is no hope for you until you change your time orientation and adopt a long term time perspective.  If you are a materialist, and you probably are, it is almost impossible for you to do that.  So I am preaching to the choir on this one, and the choir is a mighty small one from what I can see.  You know that shiny things do not bring you happiness, don't you?  Certainly if you are over 30 years of age you have learned that lesson.  So why not put that wisdom of the years into practice and abandon your materialism this year?
  10. Don't vote.  It makes you an accomplice to theft and is truly meaningless.  Democracy is an immoral system of government in that it allows the majority to steal from the minority.  As I have reported ad nauseum in this blog over the past year, the top 49% of the income population is now paying 98% of the entire federal tax bill.  That is theft on a grand scale.  When you vote for politicians who perpetuate that system you become an accessory to theft.  Indeed, when you vote for any politician who promises to rob Peter to pay Paul you are an accessory to theft.  Voting is also a meaningless activity.  No matter who you vote for and no matter who is elected the end result is always the same.  No man alive has the moral character necessary to resist the temptations associated with political power and career politician status.  They all end up becoming corrupt, every single one of them, and they all end up becoming thieves, every single one of them.  
  11. Don't worship the Beast.  Politics is truly irrelevant. Becoming politically involved is dangerous and harmful for your soul.  The Beast, in case you are not aware, is civil government in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  Google "Amillennialism + The Beast" if you want to read some fine articles explaining this theological position.  Each generation has its manifestation of the Beast (from the biblical book of Revelation) and our generation has the most powerfully evil representative of the Beast in human history found in the government of the SDA.  The SDA military has killed 30 million people during my lifetime as it has prosecuted wars of imperial expansion around the world.  The SDA is either universally hated or feared (sometimes both) by all of the rest of the nations in the world.  Cut yourself off from the Beast.  Ignore it.  Avoid politics at all costs.  Do everything you can to minimize the influence of the state in your life and, above all, never use the coercive power of the state to get your own way.  When you do that you become a functional beast yourself.  Whenever you feel tempted to become politically involved, go for a walk and contemplate the moral virtues of minding your own business.
  12. Worship the true and living God found in the Bible.  I list this as a most important resolution for the new year with the full knowledge that unless the Holy Spirit causes you to be born again there is nothing you can do to fulfill this resolution.  Yes, I am a Calvinist.  God has sovereignly chosen who will be saved and who will not.  Do you believe that is unfair?  God has a response for you.  He says, "who are you oh man to answer back to God?  Does not the potter have the right over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?"  Yes, those words are in the Bible. They are found immediately following a teaching passage written by the Apostle Paul in which he raises the rhetorical question, "You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?'"   Those questions are asked about God's choices as to who will be saved and who will not.  Is it not interesting that the hated doctrine of predestination is clearly taught in the Bible and yet Evangelicals insist that it is untrue?   Regardless of whether you are elect or reprobate (no man will know until after his death) you are commanded by God to worship Him and Him alone.  I suggest you make a commitment to do that this year.
  13. Put Down Your PED!  Although not as important as resolution number twelve, this resolution, if performed, will dramatically improve your life and bring you great happiness.  Personal Electronic Device addiction is rampant in this sad land.  People are dying in droves as a result of car accidents that are the direct result of PED addiction.  Interpersonal human communication is at an all time low as a direct result of PED addiction.  Nothing good comes from the use of a PED.  I don't own one and never will.  I am also happier than anyone else in the world that I know.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.  Put away your PED and share in my happiness.  You will never regret it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Favorite Photographs of 2015

Media outlets love to do feature stories on the year end.  I guess that makes some sense.  There is something within us that makes us look back every once in a while.  Whether it is to measure how far we have come, or how far we have fallen, a good look back can serve as a reasonable measuring stick of our progress.  When I am climbing up a steep tundra slope in search of the elusive summit of an alpine mountain I will frequently look back from whence I came.  My perception of constant progress is an excellent motivator for me to continue the upward path.  It is the same way coming back down.  My quad muscles scream out each step of the way back down the slope but looking back to see how far I have descended encourages me to persevere onward to the flat land at the bottom.
I have taken photographs of my various adventures in the mountains and elsewhere over the years.  I enjoy going back through those photographs at the end of the year in order to relive those enjoyable moments.  I thought maybe this year I would share some of them with you.  It is in that spirit that I have dedicate today's blog post to my favorite photographs of 2015.  These photos do not include all of my favorite moments as, alas, I often fail to capture a wonderful moment as a digital image.  And some photographs are too personal to share on a public blog like the Mad Welshman.  Nevertheless, these pictures do capture a bit of the enjoyment I have had in the last year.  I hope you enjoy them as well.  I don't know if it is possible to post a photo to the "comments" section of this blog but if it is and if you have a favorite photo from 2015, won't you put it up?
My first adventure of the year was a March trip to Phoenix where I was able to spend several days getting to the top of several Phoenix area peaks.  I chronicled that trip here.  One of the peaks I climbed on that trip was Barry Goldwater peak, in the White Tank mountains on the extreme western border of the Phoenix metropolitan area.  My friend and climbing partner re-titled Barry Goldwater peak as AuH2O peak.  I thought that was appropriate.  Although not a particularly striking picture, this one still reminds me of a great day on the trail in the desert on a very warm spring day.  This view is from the summit due east, towards the Phoenix metropolitan area:


The summit was covered with a series of radio towers.  That explains the presence of a road for the last half mile to the top.  The view to the west from here is stark as it reveals a seemingly endless series of remote desert mountain ranges, each calling out for intrepid climbers to explore the hidden crags and distant summits.  I hope to get to some of them in future years.
In May I made a trip to Tucson to attempt the long slog up Tanque Verde peak.  The standard route up to the summit is 18 miles long, round trip, and includes about 4500 feet of climbing.  The trail is good but rocky and somewhat slow.  I joined the aforementioned partner on that day and we were treated to various views of the Sonoran desert in bloom.  The ocotillo were particularly profuse that day.  Here is a shot, looking north to the Santa Catalinas, that shows the beautiful ocotillo:


We didn't make it to the summit that day, coming up two miles shy, as my wintertime training program proved to be less than what was required for such an ambitious spring hike.  On the way back down we were treated to this fellow:


July brought a hike up the Herman Gulch trail, near the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70.  The wildflowers are always resplendent along this trail and this time was no different.  Notice the abundant Colorado columbine:


In  August I managed to finally get around to climbing the last official 14er in Colorado.  It marked my 60th 14er personally.  I was joined by my wife and the aforementioned climbing partner.  He snapped this picture of my wife and me as we were nearing the false summit on the north ridge of Culebra Peak in the Sangre de Cristo range.  I like it because I rarely get pictures of us together:


From that false summit this view of the true summit, the high point on the left accessed via the ridge on the right, came into view.  The north facing cirque on this peak was surprisingly beautiful and only visible to those willing to do the work to get to where we were.  On the day we were there no one else was willing to do the work so we had it to ourselves.


On our return to the trailhead we were treated to these gorgeous purple/white gentian flowers (below) and a couple of fluttering butterflies unlike anything I have ever seen before (second below):



In August my church had a church camp trip we attended.  We gathered in Taylor Park, a place I had never spent a night in before.  I was surprised to discover that the nightly temperature dipped below freezing even though we were only at 9,000 feet.  It has to be one of the coldest places in Colorado.  Here is a view of Taylor Reservoir, looking north, and the 13er peaks that surround it to the north, east and west.  I suspect that is why the place gets so cold.


During the trip we decided to do a hike up a long fishhook valley on the Mt. Tilton trail.  I suspected the wildflowers would be in fine form and I was not disappointed.  Here is just one tiny portion of what we saw:


We also saw some fine mountains along the trail as this photograph of the rarely climbed Star Peak attests:


I hope to go back and climb Star (on the left end of the above ridge) at some point in the future.
September brought a trip to Silverton with some friends.  We did an easy climb of a peak above Animas Forks that gave me an opportunity to snap this photo of a couple of summits I had climbed many years before.  The fall colors are in fine form, as you can see:


For those in the know, those summits are California and Hanson peaks.
My wife and I took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in mid-fall to enjoy some hiking among the aspens, as well as a couple of easy peaks.  That trip was a total disaster and I chronicled it here.  I am continuing to actively suppress that memory and I have no photographs of what happened.
The year ended with a Thanksgiving trip back to Phoenix where a large group of friends joined my wife and me for several easy day hikes.  Picacho Peak is a requirement for all climbers.  It has a cabled route to the summit that makes it accessible even to non-technical climbers like me.  I have been to the top before so I was having a go at its northern sub-peak while my friends went to the top.  I snapped this shot of the summit from the north ridge where I was climbing:


I will leave you with a shot of a saguaro cactus I entitled "Exhausted Mother Holding Baby."  Do you see it?



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Donald Trump Is Not As Rich As He Could Be

I received a Christmas greeting from an old friend this past week.  As he was catching me up on the news from his part of the country he told me about a radio show he was listening to recently.  This fellow likes financial matters and he listens to lots of financial talk radio.  He also is an active stock trader and routinely tries to predict the market.  We have gone back and forth over the years about our different philosophies of investment.  I hold to the tried and true "buy and hold" approach to stock market investing and he believes it is possible to beat the market with active management and market timing.  He told me a story that he had heard on talk radio that confirmed my bias when it comes to stock market investing.  I went in search of the story on the internet and was able to find it.
According to this website I found that confirmed my friend's tale, "Celebrity real estate mogul, media sensation and now-presidential candidate Donald Trump is probably best known for his enormous wealth and distinctly abrasive personality. In 1974, Trump inherited $40 million from his late father, self-made multimillionaire and developer Fred Trump, along with his father’s real estate empire. In 1982, Forbes estimated Trump’s net worth to be $200 million. Today – although his actual net worth remains a mystery – Trump’s wealth is estimated to be somewhere between $2.9 billion (according to Bloomberg) and $4.1 billion (according to Forbes). Other financial institutions – including two separate banks that assessed Trumps assets and liabilities for business loans and the Federal Election Commission’s financial disclosure report – suggest much smaller holdings.
Despite all of the buzz about Trump’s business acumen and wealth – particularly recently during his run for office -- it is more than likely that he would have been a much wealthier man had he simply put that inherited sum into a mutual fund of S&P 500 stocks instead, then basically gone on a 40-year vacation. If Trump put the $40 million he inherited from his father in 1974 into index fund-equivalents (the first index mutual fund didn’t exist until 1976), instead of building skyscrapers and taking a chance on casinos, his wealth would have amounted to $3 billion – and without all the drama. If he put his total estimated $200 million wealth in 1982 into a hypothetical S&P 500 index fund, then simply rested on his laurels for 33 years, Trump’s fortune would have amassed to $8 billion today."
On December 9th I posted an article to this blog entitled, "Would you make this investment?," in which I told the tale of a stock mutual fund I own that has returned 13.5%/year since 1975.  The S & P 500 has had a average annual total return of 12.2% since 1975.  If you could have purchased an S & P 500 index fund in 1975, which you could not have done, you would have realized right at 12%/year in total return, after expenses.  The author of the story quoted above describes what would have happened to Donald Trump's inherited wealth if he had simply taken the $40 million he inherited in 1974 and invested it all into an S & P 500 index fund.  I am not sure where he got his figures but my calculations show that $40 million invested on January 1, 1975 would be worth $4.1 billion today.  Coincidentally, that is precisely how much Forbes estimates Trump's current net worth to be.  Even more important, from my perspective, is that if Trump had sold all of his holdings in 1982 and invested that sum into an S & P 500 index fund and simply held that fund until today, he would be worth double what he is worth today, with an astounding $8 billion in net worth.
Donald Trump is a blowhard who loves to brag about what a brilliant businessman he is.  He brags about how his multi-billionaire status is indicative of his expert ability to manage a business.  He informs those from whom he is soliciting a vote for next King of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika that he is qualified to lead this envy-filled land because of his track record in business.  Whether Donald is suited to be the next King of the SDA or not I do not know. What I do know is that my mother could have made more money than he has by simply putting the same amount into an index fund back in 1975 or 1982 and letting it sit there until today.  By the way, my mother, now deceased, did not know a single thing about investing. 
I am writing this post today for two reasons.  First, Donald Trump claims more financial ability than he has.  This observation does not make him unique.  Most people who actively manage their investment accounts and seek to time the market and predict the future grossly overestimate their ability to do so.  The world is filled with investment gurus who disparage the buy and hold approach and who will charge you hundreds of dollars to teach you their particular stock market timing scam.  People fall for those scams all the time because people believe it is possible, with the correct training, to predict the future.  Those of us who know we are not omniscient, a very small number of people by the way, also know that the best approach to long term investing is to be fully invested in quality stock mutual funds and make no attempt to manage them over time.
That brings me to my second reason for writing this post.  If you really and truly want to accumulate a nice nest egg for the future you need to run from the gurus who tell you they can predict the future and make a commitment today to invest for the long term with some quality stock mutual funds.  I will leave the investment selection up to you but you must buy only stock funds and you must hold them forever.  Donald Trump is not as rich as he could be, in fact he is only half as rich as he could be, because his ego got in the way when it came to investing.  Don't let that happen to you.  Don't be a Trump.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Homeland Security Stoops To A New Low

I don't fly anymore.  I loved to fly.  I never understood how people could complain when their flight was a couple of minutes late to their destination.  Maybe I read too much history.  It took the Pilgrims over two months to cross the Atlantic ocean on their way to Plymouth rock.  Today a person can fly over the ocean in a couple of hours.  So what if it takes an extra hour or two to go from New York to London?  No matter how you cut it, flying is fast, cheap, efficient and, until the impact of 9/11, most enjoyable.
Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration have completely ruined the flying experience.  By grossly violating my constitutional right to be secure in my person, papers and possessions the TSA routinely abuses my person and property whenever I have to fly by forcing me through their scanning protocols.  Today I will only fly if I cannot drive to my destination.  That means I will fly only when I have an ocean to cross.  Since I rarely have an ocean to cross I rarely fly these days.  I wish every abused and tyrannized citizen of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika shared my view of the TSA.  It would be fantastic if the airlines all began to suffer serious financial losses because customers refused to fly with them until the TSA is abolished.  But such is not the case, and not likely ever to become the case.  Why?  Because the Amerikan sheeple are terrified of terrorists, seeing them under every rock and in every baggage compartment.  That fear has caused the majority of the citizens in this terror-filled land to give up their civil rights and grant government the authority to do anything it wants to them in exchange for a promise to provide an unprovidable security from terrorist attack.
Donald the Trump is successfully exploiting this fear by promising to ban all Muslims from entering this country if he is elected.  I thought about writing a post to this blog about his proposed new law until I realized that I did not have a logical leg to stand on.  The government owns every square inch of land in the SDA.  If you do not believe that, and if you persist in the belief that you actually own some property, simply refuse to pay your real estate taxes and see how long your claim of ownership is honored.  Every single land owner in this country is a serf to the governing authorities and the payment of real property taxes is little more than our tribute as vassals to the lords who rule over us.  That being the case, if the King of the SDA, who technically owns everything in this immoral country, decides that nobody is allowed to pay us a visit, then nobody is allowed to pay us a visit.
According to a story in the Washington Post last week, a Muslim family, whom I believe are British citizens, was denied access to a flight from London  to LA on December 15th.  Mohammed Tariq Mahmood was looking forward to his trip to LA as it was his intention to treat his family to the Disneyland experience for a couple of days.  Mahmood is a 41 year old owner of a gym in northeast London.  He was met at the gate by some of Amerika's finest Homeland Security officers and informed that he and his family would not be boarding the plane bound for Disneyland.  There was no discussion.  There were no reasons given.  There was no opportunity to find out what was going on.  Mohmood was simply denied access to the plane and ordered to go home.
According to the newspaper article, "A prominent British parliamentarian demanded that Prime Minister Cameron press US officials for an explanation, something that Mahmood said he had not been given more than a week after the aborted December 15th flight.  'The only explanation I can think of is that my name is Mohammed,' said Mahmood."  Also according to the article, "US officials said little about the case Wednesday, citing federal laws protecting the privacy of air travelers."  It was that last phrase that sent me into a rage and caused me to write today's blog post.  Do you get the cruel joke?
The King owns all the land and he can invite anyone he wants to visit.  If he does not want anyone to visit, that is his business and he is under no obligation to inform the serfs why someone is not permitted to enter the land.  Nor is he obligated to inform the person who wanted to enter the Kingdom why he is not permitted to do so.  The King's word and power are supreme.  Mahmood is not entitled to, nor does he deserve, an explanation from the King for why he was not allowed to visit Disneyland.  All that matters is that the King said no to his request.  What bothers me is the excuse given to Mahmood by the King's representatives.  Rather than simply informing Mahmood that the King had spoken and that was the end of the matter, they fabricated this absurd story about the King being subject to some sort of law that both prevented Mahmood from visiting the SDA and prevented the King from telling Mahmood why he could not visit the SDA.  I am not very bright when it comes to understanding the various subtleties in human communication but even I can understand that the King's emissaries are telling lies.
A man has a ticket to board a plane to fly from London to LA.  He is prevented from doing so by the jack-booted thugs at Homeland Security.  When he dares to ask why he is being denied passage on a flight he holds a ticket for, the idiots at Homeland Security inform him that "federal laws protecting the privacy of air travelers" prevent them from telling him why he can't board the plane?  Mahmood is one of the "air travelers" the "federal laws" are designed to "protect" and yet he can't get a straight answer to the question of why he was denied the right to fly.  In fact, he can't get any answer at all.  In all of my life and in all of the dumb things I have heard coming out of the mouths of career bureaucrats, this has to be the dumbest of them all.  In essence the King's representatives told Mahmood that, "I won't tell you why you can't fly because the law protects your privacy and right to fly."  The law protects Mahmood's privacy so much even he does not know what is going on.  Hiding behind such legerdemain is typical of the cowards and idiots who populate Homeland Security and the TSA, praised be their names. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Health Care Parasites

I just received my health insurance bill in the mail yesterday.  I knew there was going to be a premium increase for 2016 and I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was only around 4%.  I had budgeted a 10% increase so I actually came out a bit ahead on my budget for 2016.  Of course I am still paying double what I was paying for the same deductible and co-payments prior to Obamacare but what am I going to do?  I take comfort in the fact that, thanks to Obamacare,  I now am covered for my many mental illnesses and my eventual and inevitable pregnancy.  My initial happiness at seeing the lower rate of increase in my premium was quickly offset however, as I pulled a special notice out of the envelope containing my bill.  Here is what the notice said:

"Special Fee Assessment for the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange.  Health plans in the state of Colorado are subject to a monthly Special Fee Assessment of $1.80 per subscriber to assist in the funding of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange as set forth in applicable Colorado insurance regulation 4-2-52.  This fee is in addition to your monthly premiums going forward and is shown as a separate line item on your invoices beginning with your enclosed January premium invoice.  Note:  Please disregard this notice if you have coverage under Medicare.  Medicare plans are not subject to the Special Fee Assessment."

The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange is better known as Obamacare for Colorado.  As is the situation with all states that have adopted Obamacare, the program is losing money as the people who enroll under the coverage spend far more on health care services than they pay in premiums.  As is also the case in all states, the various permutations of Obamacare are already subsidized by taxpayer financed Medicare dollars yet they continue to lose money.  
In 1965 Medicare made up a little less than 1% of the total federal budget.  In 2014 Medicare made up 26% of all federal spending.  In 1965, 23% of the federal budget was spent on non-entitlement spending programs.  By 2014 non-entitlement programs had been reduced to just 6% of total spending, with most of that decrease being attributed to the higher cost of Medicare.  After just one short year Obamacare spending is out of control and career politicians and bureaucrats are searching for alternative sources of income to prop up a flawed and immoral system.  As a result, the responsible and productive among us have to foot the bill for the unproductive and irresponsible.  It is the perfect government system. 
I was unaware of Colorado insurance regulation 4-2-52.  So I went in search of it on the internet.  I discovered that the Colorado legislature had enacted a new law which forces all private health insurance carriers operating within the geo-political boundary known as Colorado to assess a $1.80 tax on each of their subscribers.  That tax is then paid to the state to supplement Obamacare costs.  The law specifically stated that the "fee" is not a "premium" so I am unable to deduct it on my tax return as a medical expense.  The law also was very careful not to call the "fee" a tax, even though it clearly is, once again leaving me unable to deduct it on my tax return.  I wonder what the Supreme Court of Jokers thinks about that state ruling?
Normally I would be incensed by what is happening here.  $43.20 is being stolen from me this year and given to people who are using Obamacare.  Those who are already on the government dole are exempt from the additional tax of course.  Once again I am expected to pay for the freight of the lower 51% of the income population.  But today is Christmas and I am finding it hard to summon up enough moral outrage to go on an extended rant about this disgusting new tax.  So rather than informing the blogosphere that transfer payments are a form of theft for which all who participate in them will be held morally accountable I have decided to take a different path.  I have decided to bless my enemies instead.  Merry Christmas to all you health care parasites.  May you live long and prosper and may you continue to use the democratic process to steal my money to pay your bills.  And, lest I forget, I wish you a happy and healthy new year. 

P.S.
The above diatribe is primarily directed against those folks who like to walk around carrying signs saying things like "Don't Take Away My Healthcare" and "Free Health Care Is A Civil Right."  I realize that some recipients of Obamacare are unwilling participants in the system.   Not everyone is a thief who rejoices in receiving stolen property  You have a financial gun put to your head, in the form of tax penalties for non-compliance, and you purchase your government subsidized policies in order to avoid trouble with the police-state.  In the spirit of Christmas I want you all to know that I forgive you for that act of theft.  And I hope that you will forgive me for the various acts of theft that I am forced to commit against you by the government of this God-hating land as well.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Two Effective Means By Which I May Plunder My Neighbor

It is Christmas Eve and I am sitting here pondering the nature of Mr. Scrooge.  Many good economists, generally those not funded by the federal government, have written lengthy essays in defense of Dicken's Scrooge character.  They point out that he is involved in many good deeds as he loans money to credit-worthy individuals who then use those funds to produce goods and services for other people who are willing to purchase them.  As a result of his capitalistic activities hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people are raised out of poverty.  In general I agree with those who believe that Scrooge has been given a bum rap when it comes to his character....almost.
According to the Bible a man should be generous.  God does not specify a particular amount of money that should be given to people in need but the Bible clearly teaches that men who are generous with their money are blessed by God for being so.  There is no sanction for not being generous so I could not bring any charges against Scrooge for his refusal to donate to the local charities but there is still a biblical emphasis upon the importance of being charitable.
Biblical charity is not as the world sees it.  It is not indiscriminate and it is not based upon the simple fact that another human being has a need.  Biblical charity is always to Christians first and it is discriminatory.  The apostle Paul writes that "if a man will not work, neither shall he eat."  Biblical charity never subsidizes laziness or sloth as so much of what passes for charity today does.  On the other hand, the will of God for those fellow believers who are in need is clear.  The apostle John writes, "But whoever has the world's goods and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?"  The answer is, it doesn't.
In contrast to biblical charity is the charity of the world.  The charity of the world is forced upon people by government rules and regulations.  The charity of the world believes there is a collective of people, always called "we" or "us" or "our," that has a moral claim on the money of the top 49% of the income population.  According to the charitable principles of the world system, humble and noble people in the political majority have the moral right and responsibility to steal money from the evil and immoral members of the top 49% and distribute it to those in need, as they define need.  "Need" as it is presently defined includes such things as the need for an abortion, the need for a cell phone, the need for a free college education, the need for free health care services, the need for a free high school education, the need for a free lunch and breakfast in the government school, and so on.  Charity, as it is defined by the political majority, is the transfer of wealth from the evil rich to the noble poor, less 10% for handling by the federal bureaucracy that administers the program.
In the spirit of Christmas I would like to describe two effective means by which you can use the government system to plunder your neighbor, charitably of course.  These two means were enshrined as economic principles by a fellow of the name of Kershner.  Mr. Kershner was brought to my attention in a comment posted to my blog post of December 7th of this year.  It was there, in the comment written by Mr. Motes, that I learned about Kershner's two economic laws.  Let's consider them for a while today.

Kershner’s First Law
“When a self-governing people confer upon their government the power to take from some and give to others, the process will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare.”

The key phrase in Kershner's First Law is "self-governing people."  Kings, Queens, oligarchs, dictators and other assorted tyrants have always taken from one group to give to another.  The political philosophy behind democracy is the errant belief that if all men are endowed with the ability to govern, by means of the vote, the ability for tyrants to oppress the people will disappear.  The hidden presupposition behind that argument is that all men are basically good in nature.  How many times have we encountered that patently false presupposition in this blog over the past four years?  Let's set the record straight once again. Men are basically evil.  All men are not as evil as they might possibly be but no man is good.  Understanding the basic truth about the depravity of man enabled Kershner to postulate his first law.
Under democracy a "self-governing people confer upon their government" the power to tax.  They do this by means of the vote whereby one politician is selected over another.  Politicians, being even more evil than the rank and file, quickly realized that they could become career politicians if they promised to play Robin Hood once elected.  Voters, being greedy, envy-filled monsters, line up to vote for career politicians who promise to tax the politically unprotected top 49% of the income population.  Both career politicians and voters agree that the members of the top 49% of the income population are evil people who deserved to be forced to carry 98% of the federal tax bill each year.  It is the perfect system, until it all collapses.  Kershner observes that eventually the "last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare."  When that happens there is nobody left to fleece and the entire system collapses upon itself.
Primarily due to the amazing propensity of capitalists to produce wealth, operating in a semi-free market burdened with excess regulations, we are still a long way from picking the last bone of the last taxpayer bare.  Nevertheless, the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is well on its way to self destruction as the top 49% of the population now pays almost the entire federal tax bill.  The greed of the lower 51% is insatiable.  They will demand more and more freebies.  They will create more scenarios in which they are being wronged by the evil rich and the evil rich will be taxed even more.  So this Christmas I suggest that if you are one of the envy-filled members of the lower 51% of the income population who believes that the wealth of the top 49% really belongs to you, commit yourself to vote for career politicians like Bernie Saunders.  He wants to tax the top 49% into oblivion.  Good for him.

Kershner’s Second Law
“Throughout history periods of sound money have been marked by moral advance and prosperity. Conversely, periods of unsound money have been accompanied by moral decline.”

Kershner makes an interesting observation about sound money although I am not sure, from the limited quote above, if he is attempting to describe the relationship of unsound money to moral decline as correlative or causative.  As I have considered the law I believe that there is a causative function involved but I also believe Kershner has it backwards.  The world I see has created unsound money because it is morally reprobate.  It did not become morally reprobate because of the creation of unsound money.
Unsound money is just another term for counterfeit money which is just another term for inflation.  Most people know what inflation is (an increase in the supply of money) and some people understand the vagaries by which the Fed and Treasury conspire to create counterfeit money but almost no one understands why the whole process came into being in the first place.  Let me enlighten you.  Career politicians needed to buy more votes from the public in order to remain career politicians but those poor career politicians realized that the amount of money needed to provide all the freebies to the people who voted for them was more than they could raise by mere taxation.  In order to get more money to buy votes the career politicians concocted a scam in which a national bank was created.  The national bank of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika, called the Fed, exists only to loan money to Treasury which, in turn spends that money on whatever  Congress tells it to.  Now, if you do understand the vagaries of the Fed, you know that the Fed does not take deposits from investors.  The money it loans to Treasury is money that it creates out of thin air.  It is counterfeit money, pure and simple.  The Fed becomes the perfect means by which politicians can spend more money than they receive in tax revenues.  Thanks to the Fed we have a national debt of $18.8 trillion.  Hey, it takes a lot of money to buy votes from envy-filled voters.
In Kershner's Second Law the "moral decline" part is easy.  Men are totally depraved.  Apart from the regeneration of the Holy Spirit (from the Bible) no man is able to rise above his immoral nature and perform an altruistic action.  Since the great majority of the citizens of the SDA have not been regenerated it necessarily follows that we are in a serious moral decline.  What is a perfect example of that moral decline?  The presence of counterfeit, or unsound, money.
I leave you with a single observation.  Although I am prone to blame career politicians for everything wrong with this sad and immoral country the truth remains that Kershner's First Law best describes our problem most succinctly.  Career politicians could never become career politicians were it not for the immoral support of the majority of the citizens of this land.  As the process of transformation from a constitutional republic to a democracy has changed the fundamental nature of the SDA government, so the role of the voter-citizen has created the immoral situation under which we live today.  Somewhere along the line, I think it was when women received the right to vote, voters convinced themselves that something they would never dream of doing individually (robbing their neighbors at gunpoint) was perfectly fine to do corporately (robbing their neighbors by majority vote).  We are where we are today because this is precisely where the vast majority of the citizens of this land want to be.  So Merry Christmas to all of you Robin Hoods out there.  And Merry Christmas to all of you who vote for Robin Hood.  Just remember that, as one astute theologian once said, this life is the only piece of "heaven" you will ever know.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Planned Parenthood" and Other Misnomers

On the eve of Christmas Eve I wonder....do those who believe in the moral propriety of abortion believe that if Mary had aborted Jesus while He was still in the first trimester it would have been a morally neutral action, like having liposuction?  Would the God of the Bible have been pleased by that amoral medical procedure?  After all, He was not yet a human being.  He was just a zygote, made up of extraneous tissue that can be discarded with ethical ease, right?  To be logically consistent, which abortionists certainly do not give a hoot about, they would have to assert that aborting Jesus in the first trimester would not constitute the act of killing the Son of God.  How it would then come to pass that as a direct result of that allegedly non-murderous act of abortion, the Son of God would never be born, is something I have never heard any of them explain.  How could Jesus, after becoming incarnate in the virgin Mary, then cease to exist  if He had not been previously killed?  I have never asked an abortionist this question, nor have I heard of anyone else who has done so.  If you get the opportunity at some point in the future, give it a go and see what happens.  I certainly will.
The Congress of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika just approved the next fiscal year's budget.  Included in that budget was ample provision for the abortion advocacy group called Planned Parenthood.  Although PP is not legally permitted to spend the over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funds it will receive next year on abortions, it galls me to think that my tax dollars are going to support an institution that primarily exists to murder babies.  The accountants at PP can shuffle the numbers around any way they want but it will not change the fact that some, perhaps most,  of my money is being used to kill babies.
Even if PP was not in the business of murdering babies, it would still be immoral for the law of the land to extract income from me to support PP even if all it did was dispense advice about how to use birth control devices.  The government of the SDA has no business taking money from the politically unprotected top 49% of the income population and giving it to a group that it favors, no matter how noble the cause.  Indeed, it would still be immoral (the sin is called "theft") for the government of the SDA to take my money to provide food for people who might otherwise starve to death without that food.  Simply put, the government is always behaving immorally when it takes money from the top 49% of the income population to fund programs that are not necessary for national defense and the administration of biblical justice exclusively.
Last week I made a comment in this blog about how Planned Parenthood is a misnomer.  Planned Parenthood does not exist to help people plan to be parents.  Planned Parenthood exists to keep people from becoming parents, both before and after pregnancy.  In that sense the organization should more accurately be called Planning Against Parenthood.  After I posted that comment, and totally unrelated to it I am sure, Marcia Wolf of Denver wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post accusing people who oppose the immoral act of abortion of deceptively using terms that are misnomers.  I would like to address her letter here today.  I quote it here in full:

"Two commonly used terms, in my opinion, are misnomers:
1.  'Pro-life.'  Except for people intent on murdering someone, most people are pro-life and value life, even the lives of those with whom they disagree.
2.  'Baby killers.'  These are the most inflammatory words commonly used by anti-choice zealots.  Aside from the discussion on whether or not life begins at conception, a zygote is not a baby.  Yes, it is a potential human life, but to equate it with a 'baby' is a stretch by anyone's imagination.
So let's get our terms right when deciding to support, as I have for years, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other vital organizations that ensure women's health; or be one of the inhumane individuals who champion defunding those venues that serve not only women, but teens and men as well."

Marcia is a fine example of just how demented and depraved a human being can become when she wants to reorder the world around her to fit her world view.  Objective truth goes out the window.  Logical thinking and logically necessary deductions are also rejected.  All that matters is that she can turn the facts of the world around her into a series of lies that convince her she is not a sinner deserving the wrath of God.   Let's look at her comments in detail.
Marcia begins with a huge logical contradiction.  She hates the use of the term "pro-life" for those who oppose abortion because she believes she is in favor of all life, unlike the evil anti-abortion activists who go around killing abortionists.  In Marcia's mind she is morally superior to all anti-abortionists.  I only have three questions for her, which expose the weakness of her entire position.  Is a zygote alive?  If a zygote is alive, why do you kill it?  If you kill zygotes how can you proclaim to be pro-life?
Missing in Marcia's argument is the rather obvious truth that murderous abortionists who call themselves "pro-choice" are the most hypocritical of all parties to the debate.  To paraphrase Marcia, "except for people intent on taking away all choice, most people are pro-choice and value choice, even the choices of those with whom they disagree."  Hiding advocacy for murder behind the morally neutral term "pro-choice" is one of the most egregious examples of a misnomer I can conceive of, and Marcia is guilty of doing it.
Marcia does not like being called a baby killer.  I wonder how many abortions she has had?  I bet it is more than one.  Moral blindness of the sort she is displaying in her letter does not come about unless one has truly been down the path of great moral depravity.  Those who use the technically accurate term "baby killer" are labeled "zealots" while those who kill the babies are moral paragons.  What a strange world we live in.  Marcia resorts to the tired old refrain that a zygote is not a baby.  It is fascinating that she refers to the zygote as  "potential human life."  The DNA in the zygote is human.  It is alive.  Why is it merely a "potential" human life?  If it is only a "potential" human life is it possible it could grow up to be an earthworm or an elephant?  It would seem so if Marcia's flawed genetic analysis is correct.
Marcia proudly proclaims that she has made donations to PP for years.  I wonder if that is true?  I suspect she is lying.  If she is not lying, I wonder how much of her own money she has given to PP?  Marcia also believes that I am inhumane (I wonder....does that mean I am only a zygote?) because I believe that it is immoral to have my money stolen from me and given to a doctor and a pregnant woman to pay for the procedure to kill her baby.  As Marcia sees it, both murder and theft are humane and moral activities and my belief, which she would not kill me for holding, that babies should not be murdered and money should not be stolen are evidences of my inhumanity, whatever that is.
Marcia concludes by informing me that PP is a vital organization that dispenses health services to women, men and teenagers (gender neutral I suppose).  This is the only thing she writes that is true.  The men and male teenagers who have impregnated women are quite relieved when they can ship their wives, girl friends and one-night-stands off to a taxpayer financed abortion mill where the by-product of their true love can be brutally killed. They are all on the receiving end of a vital government service, praised be its name.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

To The FBI Agent Tracking My Blog

A handful of people are aware of the true identity of the Mad Welshman.  As I wrote in my introduction almost four years ago, I remain anonymous because my personal identity is totally irrelevant to the truths I present.  I could be King Obama or I could be future Queen Hillary and it would not matter.  I could be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet and it would not matter.  Truth is truth, regardless of the source.  Lies are lies, regardless of the source.  I believe the cult of personality, either negative or positive, causes many people to believe things they should not, or not believe things they should, and I endeavor to keep that from happening.  Not that I think a cult of personality could ever form around me.  In four years I have cultivated a robust 17 followers to this blog.  I consider that to be a rousing success since popularity is generally a sign of gross error.  In the real world I am nothing but a lowly Christian janitor who knows a thing or two about a handful of topics that I consider relevant to society today.  That is why I started this blog four years ago and that is why I continue posting to it today.
I don't consider what I write to be particularly inflammatory in nature.  Most everything that I write here can be found in either John Calvin, Thomas Jefferson or Murray Rothbard.  None of those men were revolutionaries bent upon the destruction of the state.  Indeed, Calvin preached submission to the state regardless of how evil it might become, just as I have in previous posts in this blog.  As Calvin saw things, which is precisely how I see things, God brings providential judgements upon the covenantal heads of the institution of civil government when they disobey His law and those who are under their authority cannot escape those judgments.  All men deserve to be punished for the idolatrous worship of the state and it is inevitable that the small number of non-idolaters in the group will end up bearing at least some of that punishment as well.  I tell myself that every time I pay my extortionate amount of taxes to the Treasury of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  Those who support and propagate immorality within civil government are especially likely to fall subject to the providential judgement of the God of the Bible, but that is God's business, not mine.  Regardless, some of those who know me have cautioned me to be careful about where I go and what I do because they believe I am being monitored by the FBI as a potential terrorist threat.  If that is the case, and I have no idea if it is, I have prepared an open letter to the anonymous FBI agent who might be tracking my blog:

Dear FBI Agent:
If you have read all 880+ posts to this blog you have a pretty good idea what I am about.  Not once in those 880+ posts have I ever recommended, encouraged, sanctioned or demanded that anyone do anything contrary to the law of the land.  This is true despite the fact that the law of this immoral land is highly immoral itself.  It is designed to steal from one group and give to the favored members of another government endorsed class.  It is designed to enshrine mere mortals as career politicians who then have the power to make or break the lives of the rest of us.  It is designed to foster and inculcate worship of itself, and its representatives.  It is immoral and God-hating through and through but until the law of this land forcibly requires me to commit immorality I have no right to rebel against it.
This is what the shooter at the abortion mill in Colorado Springs got wrong last month.  I understand his position, and you should too, that his actions prevented the murder of a couple of human beings that day.  What he got wrong is that God does not require us to take up arms against an immoral government that sanctions murder until we are personally required to engage in murder.  It is only when the FBI agent knocks on my door and informs me that my wife must have an abortion that I am permitted to take up arms against the state.
Christians do not believe in revolution, or at least they should not believe in revolution.  Many Christians were instrumental in bringing about the revolution against Britain that resulted in the founding of this immoral and envy-filled country but they were wrong in what they did.  They were following the incorrect teachings of a brawl-loving theologian by the name of John Knox.  Mr. Knox had corrupted the Reformed doctrine of submission to the state as taught by John Calvin.  Contrary to what Calvin taught, Knox believed that a "lesser magistrate" (usually just him and some of his drinking buddies) could constitute a civil body endowed by God with authority to rebel against the higher level of authority in the land.  You will search the Bible in vain for any such teaching.  God's will in this matter is clear.  He brings punishment, in the form of the tyrannical government you work for, to punish people for not worshiping Him as they should.  We have no right to rebel against this punishment.  On the contrary, we are required to bend our backs and receive our blows from your hand.  In this sense God is using you just like He used the Assyrians and the Babylonians to punish His covenant people.
To make things clear, I do not believe in "law and order" as you see it.  Your concept of law and order is nothing more than tyranny.  What I do believe in is a sovereign God who orders all things according to His purposes and that includes those things most people call evil.  Make no mistake, civil government as it operates in this envy-filled land today, as well as the multitude of police forces that enforce submission to the immoral laws of this land, is a God-hating institution that God will bring down.  After God finished using the Assyrians and the Babylonians to punish His people, He brought horrific and terrific judgement upon them for their God-hating ways.  You should expect the same.
Don't think that you will escape God's judgement in the future because you are just following the orders of your superiors and the law of the land as it is now written.  You will not.  God will not be mocked.  He requires you to submit to His law as revealed in the Bible.  He will judge you according to His law as revealed in the Bible.  If you are like most citizens of this depraved land you have no clue what the Law of God says.  Don't think that your ignorance of His revealed will in the Bible will spare you, it will not.  Maybe you are wondering (highly unlikely since the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of you being a God-hater, just like the rest of the people in power in this reprobate country) precisely what God is going to judge you for.  Let me give you a short list:
  1. The Bible forbids your practice of spying on the citizens of this country.
  2. The Bible forbids your practice of searching through the papers and possessions of the citizens of this country without a warrant alleging probable cause that a crime has been committed.
  3. The Bible forbids you to enforce laws that are contrary to biblical law.  That would be most of the laws that you currently enforce.
  4. You have no right to require bankers to inform you whenever a citizen of this country engages in a cash transaction in excess of $10,000.  You have no right to require investment brokers to inform you whenever a citizen of this country engages in a cash transaction in excess of $10,000.
  5. You have no right to go to internet service providers and demand they reveal the names and internet activity of their customers.  That is an invasion of privacy that is both illegal and immoral.
  6. You have no right to practice entrapment in order to make it appear as if you are saving the citizens of this land from terrorism.  This includes inciting people of marginal intelligence into planting bombs at the finish line of athletic events around the country.
  7. You have no right to infiltrate organizations within this country that are minding their own business and obeying the laws as they are written.
  8. Here is one little excerpt from biblical law that will amaze and confuse you.  God requires you to protect His Church in this country.  You are guilty of not only refusing to protect the Church in this God-hating land, you are guilty of persecuting it by refusing to enforce biblical law.
  9. You have no right to criminalize drugs and enforce draconian punishments upon people who are minding their own business and not doing any harm to their neighbors.
  10. You have a moral responsibility to criminalize pornography, fornication and adultery but you refuse to do so.
That is a very short list.  You are responsible for many more behaviors that you are not currently engaging in and you will be found guilty for a great many more of the things you are presently doing.  You steal from the taxpayers when you work for the Beast (civil government).  You become one of God's enemies when you work for and receive a retirement pension from the Beast.  A word of advice....you do not want to be one of God's enemies.
It is not too late for you to change your ways.  As long as you are alive it is possible to change the course you are on and go from being an enemy of God to a friend of God.  But doing so will cost you all of the hedonistic pleasures you enjoy today.  You will lose your job, your income, your pension and the support and admiration of your friends.  You will be labeled a kook and a nut-job for abandoning such a promising career to become a follower of Christ.
I do not know how God will bring judgment in the future, nor do I care to know.  All I do know is that He will do it.  If He is consistent with His nature, and He always is, He prefers to wait a long period of time before destroying a group of people for their sin.  As He likes to say, He waits for "the iniquity to fill up" prior to bringing His wrathful hand against a people.  The only reason we have not already seen His wrath is due to the fact He is waiting for us to do even more evil things.  You should endeavor to do the opposite.  You should stop doing evil things.  Despite the length of this open letter I really have only one word to say to you.  Repent.


Monday, December 21, 2015

My Take On "The Hunger Games"

(Spoiler Alert:  I discuss some details from all four movies below.  If you have not seen them and are planning on seeing them in the future you might want to skip today's blog post, unless you have already read the books, in which case it does not matter what you do; can you think of any way I can make this run-on sentence any longer?)

My wife joined me at a showing of the fourth installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, plus 1, last week.  Let me say in advance that I am a huge fan of the books and the movies.  My wife introduced me to the books while on a trip to Death Valley several years ago.  She reads to me while I drive on some of our longer road trips.  The trip to Death Valley is a long one from the Denver metro area and she was able to get through a good portion of the first book on the way there.  I was so captivated by the dystopian nature of the first book I forced her to read the entire series to me while we sat  watching the sun go down on Telescope peak each night.  I have watched the first three movies multiple times and was looking forward to the fourth, and final, movie in the series.  I was not disappointed.
It is my understanding that the author of the Hunger Games intentionally wrote for an older teenage audience.  Hence the emphasis upon the teenage romantic threesome, with Katniss in the middle, features prominently in both the books and the movies.  I don't mind that but I know that a fair number of adult fans of the series find the romantic element somewhat tedious.  I don't believe it is fair to judge a book for being what it is.  The author had no responsibility to write the book for me and my socio-economic class and age cohort.  On the contrary, it is my responsibility as the reader to ascertain precisely what message, or messages, the author was attempting to convey to her readers.
I have a definition of art that many people find strange and filled with multiple errors.  The philosophical discipline of aesthetics is an important one that is generally ignored these days.  What is art?  What is beauty?  What makes art good or bad?  These are questions that I have considered over the years and I have developed a theory that I would like to tell you about today.
The first distinction that I make when it comes to defining art is that between a work of art and an artifact.  An artifact is something that many people consider to be beautiful but that only has social utility and conveys no additional message.  A work of art, on the other hand, is something that many people consider to be beautiful that may have utility but exists for the purpose of conveying a particular message.  For example, a piece of Hopi pottery can be considered beautiful by many people but a Hopi pot exists for the purpose of holding water or some foodstuff.   The spyrographic type designs on the surface of the pot can be considered "artistic" but if they do not convey any message to the observer the pot itself is an artifact and not a work of art.  Conversely, if an artist creates a painting of something with the intention of conveying the message that Christians will be persecuted if they do not comply with the world system, that painting is a work of art and not a simple artifact.
The second distinction I make is that between good art and bad art.  Good art successfully conveys the message that was in the mind of the author of the piece and bad art does not.  For example, Warhol's painting of a can of tomato soup is, in my opinion, merely an artifact.  I cannot conceive of any possible message being conveyed by the painting.  But it is possible, indeed even likely, that I am too dense to understand the message that Warhol is attempting to convey to those who observe his painting.  Maybe his meaning is that life is like a bowl of soup....sometimes hot and sometimes cold but always satisfying!  If that is the case the painting is a work of art but a poor one because he does not successfully convey the idea that was in his head as he painted to the mind of the person who observes the painting.
As a side note, I will get back to the Hunger Games soon, that is why I believe most all of what is called "modern art" is really nothing more than artifact.  I have asked people who create what they call pieces of art, that are nothing more than canvasses splashed with paint of various textures, what they were attempting to do.  They will describe, in intimate detail, the coalescing of the various colors and textures for me but when I ask them what it all means I receive nothing back but a blank stare.  It seems to me that most of what passes for art these days is nothing more than artifacts containing a wide variety of colors and textures in them that are then talked about by the artistic community, whoever that is (I think most of them live in Taos, NM) as being beautiful works of art. I don't buy it.  And I don't buy their "art."
The Hunger Games is a work of art and I joyfully plunked down my fee to enter the theater to watch it.  There is one main message associated with the story and several corollaries to that message as well.  The main message of the Hunger Games is that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  One of the corollaries of the movies is that the most unscrupulous among us are those who seek absolute power.  Another of the corollaries of the movies is that those who are closely associated with those in power are blessed while those who are not in favor of the current establishment are cursed.  Yet another corollary found in the movies is that people who cherish freedom and personal responsibility want to live under conditions of laissez faire capitalism.  Allow me to explain my understanding of the author's intentional messages in the Hunger Games.
The message that absolute power corrupts absolutely is not new.  It is, however, a message that must be continually repeated as men have a propensity to forget it quite quickly.  Due to the natural desire in most sinful human beings to worship some sort of civil government, it is inevitably that God, in His providence, will give men the sort of government they want which will eventually function as a curse upon them for their statist idolatry.  The Capitol is the source of all decadence in the dystopian world of the Hunger Games.  The gut-wrenching practice of gathering two children from each of the twelve districts each year for a contest in which they will battle to the death for the entertainment of the ruling class is, for me, a most powerful metaphor of the tyrannical state.  I simply can't get the emotions associated with that contest out of my head.  I have watched the first movie multiple times and I cry like a baby when Pru dies and Katniss buries her under the watchful eye of the Capitol's cameras.  What a stark contrast is exhibited between an act of human compassion and the deadly power of a corrupt state.
It is not long into the fourth movie when we learn that Katniss has come to realize that the military power associated with the 13th District, in combination with her star-power, is going to create another version of the Capitol, only worse in that it does not hesitate to kill its own people to advance its cause.  A comparison to the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is impossible to avoid at that point in the movie. The ultimate irony of the entire movie is the decision of the President of the victorious rebels to continue to practice of the Hunger Games, only using the children of the Capitol city as its cannon fodder.  Small wonder that, when given the chance, Katniss executes the President of the 13th District and spares the life of President Snow.
President Coin illustrates one of the corollaries.  Although initially appearing to be virtuous and selfless, she turns out to be like all rent-seeking politicians.  She assumes power for herself, even attempting to have Katniss killed in battle (in a scene eerily reminiscent of what David did to Uriah in the biblical story) so as to avoid a conflict with her when the rebellion is complete.  Coin ends up being morally inferior to Snow, who was the paragon of immorality prior to Coin's appearance.
The end of the movie, although no doubt considered far too sweet by many people, portrays a happy married couple with children living in District 12.  For the time being at least, the civil government is being restrained by being populated and controlled by people who have not yet become corrupt.  During this short window of opportunity the world becomes a better place.  The literal change of seasons that takes place in the final scene of the movie, from the stark deadness of winter to the beautiful vibrant greens of summer, dramatically portrays the truth that men and women who live in freedom end up prospering.  There is no government there to tyrannize them.  They are free to do as they please and for the first time in the entire movie we see Katniss with a smile on her face.  What a beautiful sight it was to see a smiling Katniss tenderly cradling her infant in her arms.  And what a beautiful work of art the Hunger Games series turns out to be. 



Friday, December 18, 2015

Mind Your Own Business

Over the years I have coined a phrase that describes the social tension that is created when people interject themselves into the lives of others unnecessarily.  Due to the tremendous emotional insecurity that exists in most people who populate this earth, most folks spend an inordinate amount of time trying to control the people around them so as to attempt to order things in such a way that they can feel good about themselves.  Inevitably the controlling and demanding activities of one insecure person will impinge upon the controlling and demanding activities of another insecure person and a conflict will erupt.  Even those who have no desire to control others can be sucked into these conflicts if they are not careful to run from them the moment they realize what is happening.  The phrase I use to describe these tense social situations is "elective grief."
Elective grief is grief that does not have to come into existence.  There are lots of things to grieve about in this world that are unavoidable.  The death of a loved one, the apostasy of a person who was once a fellow believer, the murderous hatefulness displayed by most people as they go about their daily lives, the worship of the Beast (civil government in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika) and its henchmen (soldiers and police) and the preponderance of complete and total selfishness displayed by our fellow man are all just and reasonable occasions for grief.  Elective grief, in contrast, only comes into existence because someone sticks his nose into someone else's business when he has no right or duty to do so.
Most family conflicts are the result of elective grief.  Families are perfect microcosms for selfish and insecure people to attempt to control everyone but themselves.  All of us are familiar with what I am writing about here today so I do not need to give lots of examples in support of my position.  How many family members argue, gossip and back-bite each other almost continually?  How many family reunions are dedicated to nothing but gossiping about each other while forming and joining familial cliques that support the various factions?  All of that grief is unnecessary but it makes up, for many people, the greatest proportion of the grief they experience in their lives.  This truth about families has caused me to create a life principle that I endeavor to follow. That principle is, "If I would not have anything to do with this person if he/she were not a family member, why am I having anything to do with him/her now?"  Other than my biblical duty to my parents, now eliminated since both are dead, I have no moral duty to be involved in the lives of any of the members of my family.  Fortunately, I have a very good family, both natural and my "in-laws" and I have not had to exercise this principle with any of them.
I have found that one of the keys to social and relational harmony is to mind my own business.  It is astounding how many things never come up when I mind my own business.  It is impossible to number how many inter-personal conflicts have never occurred because I minded my own business, but I bet it is in the thousands.  If everyone committed himself to minding his own business I dare say we could eliminate elective grief over night.  That, of course, is never going to happen, but it is a nice thing to consider.  Just imagine a world without anyone trying to control the behavior of anyone else.  Just imagine a world in which people keep their opinions to themselves.  Just imagine a world in which everyone minds his own business.  It would almost be heaven on earth.
A friend and reader of this blog sent me a link to a website, found here, on which people list their "pet peeves."  Now a pet peeve need not necessarily be an example of someone trying to control the behavior of another, but many of them are.  It is fascinating how often I become annoyed with others and how rarely I become annoyed with myself.  The slightest and most inconsequential behavior that you do is enough to send me into a rage while I will tolerate the most heinous sinfulness in my own life.  I wonder why that is?  While I attempt to figure that one out, I think it has something to do with sin, I would like to consider some of the pet peeves found on that website, especially as they apply to elective grief. I don't know if the list of peeves is in any particular order.  I don't know if they are ranked by how many people hold to one or the other.  If they do I found it most interesting that the first one on the list is, "Drivers who do not use a turn signal."
I have had a theory about turn signal use for quite some time.  I am one of those who is accused of not using my turn signal properly.  Many people who have tried to follow me while caravaning to some destination or another get our of their vehicles quite annoyed with me when we arrive because I did not use a turn signal to their satisfaction.  I do not make the choice to not use a turn signal to be offensive, to draw attention to myself or to irritate others (sorry about that double negative).  My theory is that most people use their turn signals as a means to control others and that is why I will use mine only when it is necessary to convey information about my lawful intentions to another driver.  The Yuppies who live in my neighborhood only use their turn signals to indicate that they want to force their way into the line of traffic after moving quickly forward in another lane with the intention of forcing themselves in closer to the front.  These same Yuppies also use their turn signals as a weapon when they are seeking to merge into a lane of traffic.  Rather than following the rules of the road that place the responsibility for changing speeds in order to merge upon the driver who is merging, these selfish jerks use their turn signal to inform folks like me that I am to adjust my speed for them.  It seems pretty clear to me that most turn signal use, at least where I live, is offensive rather than informative in nature.  In other words, people use their turn signals to inform others that they expect a particular behavioral change in me that suits them.  That creates all sorts of elective grief as the drivers of the vehicles careen down the road raging each other.
The fifth peeve on the list mystifies me.  It is "Couples who sit on the same side of the booth when there is no one on the other side."  How in the world can it be bothersome to someone if my wife and I decide to sit on the same side of the booth, leaving the other side vacant?  How much must a person be minding the business of others to be offended by that completely inoffensive behavior?  Honestly, I can't fathom how sitting on the same side of the booth could be offensive to anyone.  Can you?
Fourteenth on the list is "People walking around in ridiculous 'fashionable' shoes that are clearly hurting their feet."  I can honestly say that I have never been offended or bothered in the slightest when I see some lady wearing a pair of shoes that are clearly doing damage to her feet and musculature.  It is her business, what does it matter to me?  I have chuckled to myself, under my breath, when I see those folks tottering along, barely able to stand up without falling over.   What does it take to make that a pet peeve except a perverse desire to control the behavior of others?  Live and let live, that is my motto.  Mind your own business, that is the Welsh way.
Here is another one I don't understand.  "Made up car names that are not even real words" is on the first page of the list.  What difference does it make what moniker a car manufacturer wishes to place on his product?  Who cares?  Why lose any sleep over it?  It is his car and he can call it whatever he wants to call it.  It is none of my business.  If I don't like the non-word he uses to describe his car I am free to buy something different but I hardly have any justification to be upset by his choice of terms.  
Here is another one related to driving, as so many are, "Drivers who will not turn right on red."  I think we are all familiar with this one.  There is a car in front of me and he has the opportunity to make a right turn on red but is unwilling to do so.  I also want to make a right turn on red and his delay could end up costing me a good fifteen to twenty seconds of my lifespan while I wait for the light to change.  That, of course, is totally unacceptable to the person who has committed himself to the practice of controlling the behavior of others.  So I honk my horn and make it very clear to him that I am quite dissatisfied with his behavior in this matter.  It never occurs to me that he might have a very good reason in his own mind for waiting for the light to turn green. It never occurs to me that he might be driving home from his wife's funeral.  It never occurs to me that he might have just been informed by his doctor that he has six months to live.  It never occurs to me that he might just be daydreaming, as we all do at times, and unaware of the situation.  All that matters to me is that he is not doing what I want him to do.
I used a double negative earlier in this post.  Using double negatives is on the list.  I wonder how many people I offended when I did so earlier?  All I can say if you were offended is, get over it, relax, mind your own business.
Here is a peeve that is near and dear to my heart, "People who ride their bikes in the road when a sidewalk is right there."  I must confess that I am one of those highly offensive people who rides his bike on the road.  I am faced with an interesting choice.  I can ride my bike on the sidewalk and offend the pedestrians or I can ride my bike on the road and offend the drivers.  I chose the option that the law allows me and I ride on the road, despite being raged by drivers who are seeking to control my behavior.
I could go on forever here.  Go to the website and see for yourself.  The last one is an example of something I heard on the radio while on my last road trip to Arizona.  I tuned in to the radio show of Laura Ingraham and she was talking about how irritated she gets when "people give their kids weird names."  She droned on incessantly, one of my pet peeves, at how stupid it is for parents to give their children names that are not traditional.  Traditional names, by the way, are Susan, Mary, Bob and George.  Given the fact that most of the weird names she cited are for people who are black, I was shocked she had the courage to say what she did since she was opening herself up to charges of racism.  I could not believe what I was hearing as she informed her listeners how offensive she finds it when people use non-traditional names for their kids.  All I could think was, Laura, you need to mind your own business.