Saturday, February 7, 2015

Our Impending Doom - Trace Cummings

Our impending doom - TMNews.com: ColumnsCommentaryOur impending doom

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Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 10:30 am | Updated: 10:47 am, Fri Feb 6, 2015.
Editor’s note: Trace Cummings, a 2011 Bedford North Lawrence High School graduate, rode his bicycle from Bedford to Texas last year. Initially, he planned to plant trees along the way, but reconsidered and has opted to plant trees in Bedford instead.
Sensationalist titles like the one above pepper the nightly news. And why shouldn’t they? Wars are cropping up all over the place, terrorist attacks and school shootings are becoming the norm, and the bad guys seem to be getting the upper hand. Everyone I talk to is afraid of the unknown. Most are wary about the fate of mankind, sure that we will continue to devolve until we meet our fiery end. 
One can’t help but wonder if the end times described in the Bible are coming nearer. After all, the Bible does say that men will become lovers of the self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, ungrateful, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. It is for all of these reasons that I, too, was afraid before I left the comfort of my home to ride my bicycle to Texas last March. But what I discovered along the way changed everything.
To my surprise, almost everyone I met was kind to me and helped me in any way they could. I was hungry, and Hilda Jenkins gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and Ray gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and Ronnie invited me in; I ran out of clean clothes, and Pete let me do laundry in his home; I even got a ride to the nearest hotel, free of charge, from a leader of the Simon City Royals gang.
My point is this: the world is not always what it seems, and it is not all bad. Nay, I would even go so far as to say that it is mostly good! When I first postulated this, I began to search for evidence to validate my thesis. I discovered that since the year 2000, eight million more AIDS patients world wide have gotten the proper drugs they need, child mortality has gone down 2.65 million per year, extreme poverty has gone from 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent by 2010, and on top of all of that, we are currently living in the least violent century ever seen by mankind, despite being able to kill each other more efficiently than ever. These tidbits may not prove my theory, but I believe they’re a good start.
Don’t get me wrong; we’ve still got a long way to go. We should constantly strive to do more and be better, and in my personal struggle, I have looked to MLK for inspiration. As he says in his I Have A Dream speech, “Now is the time” — Now is the time to stop focusing on mankind’s “downward spiral” and focus instead on the good and the beautiful and the true. Now is the time to develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. Now is the time to rise above our fear and love each other more fiercely than ever before. Now is the time to give strangers and the human race the benefit of the doubt. Now is the time to make the Promised Land a reality.
While I do not wish to compare myself to Dr. King, I, too, have a dream. I have a dream that one day our superficial differences such as race, sexual preference, gender, and religious belief will no longer be topics of discussion in the news. I have a dream that one day we will hold our heads high, and stand hand in hand — black, white, gay, straight, transgender, Christians, and Muslims alike — and revel in our similarities. I have a dream that one day war will be a thing of the past and the world will know conflict without violence.
It is up to us to convince our fellow man that there is hope for humanity, for in the end, whether we believe it or not, it will surely be a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if it turns out that the end of man is coming sooner rather than later, and the good people such as yourselves are to be overrun by the bad, I expect you won’t go down without a fight. Just remember: hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Trace Cummings invites you to help plant trees next month. The date and time will be announced.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Diabetic Doggie

Poor little Maggie Pie. She's had a rough time. Found out she is diabetic. All the signs were there, but I didn't catch them.

I put her on a diet a couple months ago, so when she started losing weight it made sense.

She is on a diuretic, so urinating more than normal made sense.

Her allergies were acting up, so after she started her allergy meds and got thirsty, it made sense.

She was getting a little lame in her back leg - took her to the vet and he said the muscle was somewhat smaller, but attributed the lameness to an existing back issue.

All those symptoms - weight loss, frequent urination, thirst, muscle/nerve issues... all those symptoms had other reasons to be there.

Finally got real worried when she had no energy. Blood sugar by then was over 700! Surprised as hell that there is no detectable kidney damage! After two different kinds of insulin (and now changing to a third one), varying doses and diet changes her glucose levels are ranging from 114-300. Still not great, but much improved.

I've got a human meter at home and have been checking her regularly. The human meters aren't as accurate as the dog kind, but we figured out the difference is 30% with our particular meter and always keep that in mind. Little Maggie Pie is so good about letting me check. I tell her "It's time to check your sugar, Sugar" and she comes over, lays on her side and puts her little elbow in the air. She is exceptionally smart and such a little doll!

It will take a while longer to get this under control, but this old hermit is bound and determined to fix her broken baby!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Promoting Jesus Is the Wrong Plan

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been widely viewed as a viable presidential contender in the Republican Party for years. A moderate who has pushed for the availability of no-prescription birth control, and who has exhorted the GOP to stop being “the stupid party,” Jindal may yet prove to appeal to constituencies far beyond the Republican core of conservative angry white men.
One plus point for the secular-minded is that the governor, though a Catholic, was never much of a Bible thumper — until a few years ago. Over time, Jindal has started to get adamant that it’s time to “turn back to God,” and he has no qualms about seeing Christianity as a policy tool, going so far as to lead a prayer rally in his official capacity as governor, in violation of America’s church-state separation. He’s on record as saying,
Our nation is faced with fatherless homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our inner cities, a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism – Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope. We need Spiritual Transformation.
It’s hard to tell whether he’s just pandering to Huckabee Christians or if this is truly Jindal’s heartfelt belief, but it’s a risky and annoying move either way, says Nick Gillespie, the editor of the digital version of Reason magazine (disclosure: I’m an occasional contributor there).
No, it’s not time to “turn back to God,” especially when it comes to politics and public policy. What ails the government is not a deficit of religiosity but a nearly complete failure to deal with practical issues of spending versus revenue, creating a simple and fair tax system, reforming entitlements, and getting real about the limits of America’s ability to control every corner of the globe. God has nothing to do with any of that. The fault lies not in our stars but in policies.
Nick Gillespie
As the Republican field begins to come into clearer focus regarding 2016, I hope that it will recognize that the United States is an increasingly secular country. That doesn’t mean religion isn’t important in people’s lives, or that it may have an effect on how they live their lives (for better and for worse). But it does mean that mixing religion and politics will alienate many voters (even religious ones) who realize these are two separate spheres.
Gillespie wonders where all the GOP handwringing about a morally deteriorating society even comes from. The country’s social metrics should obviate any propensity toward moral panic, he points out.
Two things are worth noting when it comes millennarian talk of contemporary America as somehow a bastion of sinners in the hands of an angry god. First, over the same time that Christians of all denominations and other religiously minded folks have complained about increases in coarsening materialism, virtually all signs of social pathology have declined. There’s less crime, including less violent crime and sexual assault. Drug abuse is not spiking, divorce rates have declined, abortions and teen sex rates are down, and nobody is starving in America. That’s not to mistake the current world for a shining city on a hill, but we’re certainly not a 21st-century Sodom.
Where there are problems, they stem directly from awful government policies pursued by the two most-recent presidents, both of whom are god-fearing Christians. They spent too much money and regulated the hell out of all aspects of the country’s business. They have a willingness to torture people and surveil regular American citizens while flouting constitutional protections on civil liberties. Police militarization, like bank bailouts and stimulus spending, will not be reformed by appeals to god. Conservatives of all people should recognize that the state should treat citizens as individauls [sic] who are equal before the law, which is a prima facie case for accepting gay marriage.
Religion holds no policy answers for politicians, says Gillespie, and that’s true not just in America:
All over the world, we can find endless of examples of how mixing religion and politics leads not simply to ruination but awful, awful outcomes. We find exceptionally few where infusing politics with religion and appeals to “turn back to God” do anything other than create endless turmoil.
(Image via Reason)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I Stand With Charlie

12 Striking Charlie Hebdo Front Covers

Far from targeting Muslims in particular, the satirical newspaper has ridiculed everyone from English people to the Pope.
1.
Charlie Hebdo / Via thedailybeast.com
“Sharia Hebdo” by David Sessions, 2011. It features a cartoon of “guest editor” the prophet Muhammad threatening readers with “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!” The publication’s offices were fire-bombed after it published this issue.
2.
Charlie Hebdo / Via quebec.huffingtonpost.ca
The Pope tells a bishop to “Go into movies, like Polanski…” A comment on sex scandals in the Catholic Church, 2010.
3.
Charlie Hebdo / Via thedailybeast.com
A Jew, the Pope, and an Islamic fundamentalist declare “Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!”, 2007.
4.
Charlie Hebdo / Via quebec.huffingtonpost.ca
“But who wants English people in Europe?”, 2007.
5.
Charlie Hebdo / Via quebec.huffingtonpost.ca
“The father, the son, and the holy ghost”. A comment on same-sex marriage, 2013.
6.
meltybuzz.fr / Via Charlie Hebdo
“Love is stronger than hate”, featuring a man in Islamic attire kissing a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, 2011.
7.
Charlie Hebdo / Via http://blog-picard.fr
“The true history of baby Jesus”.
8.
sampsoniaway.org / Via Charlie Hebdo
“Bin Laden lives!”, May 2011.
9.
Charlie Hebdo / Via thedailybeast.com
“Look no hands!” Bin Laden cover, published after 11 September 2001.
10.
Charlie Hebdo
“Islamophobia: Should we be afraid of little Jesus?” Published in the wake of French laws banning religious symbols, such as veils, from schools, December 2010.
11.
Charlie Hebdo / Via thedailybeast.com
“Untouchables. Must not mock them!”, 2012.
12.
Charlie Hebdo
“Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists,” 2006. The quote in the speech bubble reads, “Its hard to be loved by idiots.” The issue featured cartoons that caricatured the prophet Muhammed. Muslim groups sued, but Charlie Hebdo won the case in 2007.