The Power of the Purse – Use it

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While this occurred in May 2016, I only recently became aware of action taken in Tennessee where Republicans finally grew a spine and used their brains to fight against anti-Christian and immoral social progressivism.

We often get myopic about how we can combat the things going on around us, leading to a feeling of helplessness and despair.   While we all know that we can pray and trust in God, we often act as if that’s an afterthought rather than our first line of defense.    God works in strange ways and in uncertain timelines, so us mere humans can sometimes get the feeling that our prayers are not heard if they are not immediately answered.   It’s a somewhat natural reaction, which is why faith and trust are often sheer acts of will as opposed to nice and comfortable emotional joyrides.   I sometimes contemplate the little chicken-and-egg type of sayings, like “I pray because I trust.  I trust because I pray.”   Well, which is it?    It’s both, of course.   I sometimes wonder if the very reason for a seemingly unanswered prayer is either because I didn’t trust enough that God would or could grant my request, or if He needs to test me by fire a little bit – force me to continue to trust even without getting exactly what I want.

So, while it is certainly fine that relying on prayer is a welcome myopia, at least as one of the actions we need to take, we often fail to use our brains in finding other ways to make a difference.

Let’s focus on some of the social issues around us and how we seem to never gain any ground – and in fact we always seem to lose ground.    Whether it’s abortion or same-sex marriage, or whether it’s the new pet of the progressive left, transgender issues (or definition of what gender is, period) we seem to really rely on elections, laws, and Supreme Court decisions.    If we lose an election at the federal level then, well, there’s nothing we can really do.  Worse yet, there seems to be this reluctance to actually stand up for anything when we do have the chance to do it out of some fear of losing power.    We continue to trade moral issues away out of some argument that this will preserve our power so we can do good in other areas.   It’s not exactly the wisdom of Solomon.   It’s the fear of a miser.

Lawmakers in Tennessee disagreed earlier this year.   And it’s a great example of using the power you have to impact behavior.

Here is a story on the subject:  Link to article

Notably, from the article, the bill

Bans UT from spending state funds “to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support Sex Week,” most of which had already occurred.

What happened here is that the UT-Knoxville “office of diversity and inclusion” went off the rails of what they consider to be diverse and inclusive.   Which isn’t particularly surprising.    Many of these kinds of offices in Universities (as well as corporate America and government offices) long ago went off the rails.    And until now most of the response has been “if you don’t like it, don’t go there.”   Fair enough, but it’s also hypocritical.   These are entities that receive public funding (i.e. tax dollars) and the people making these arguments would be the first to go apoplectic if someone on staff uttered the words “Merry Christmas.”

The office of diversity and inclusion apparently believes that banning all gender-specific pronouns like “he”,”she”,”him”, or “her” so as not to offend anyone struggling with gender identity.   They also picked and chose acceptable and unacceptable religious holidays to make any sort of reference to, and they hosted what can only be called a completely offensive and inappropriate “Sex Week.”

So, the funding arm of the state Congress in Tennessee finally grew a pair and said “enough.”   All funding to that morally bankrupt department goes to actually helping minority students pay for school.    It was the right move, and a good move.   One hopes that either this entire office goes away completely or it rediscovers its actual purpose – which is to actually promote real diversity, encourage dialogue – not just liberal mantras – and be fully inclusive (including Christians and those who want to use boy pronouns to talk about boys.)

I hope this helps set precedent and embolden other legislative bodies.   We can push back – we don’t just have to accept cultural decay.   We might not be able to do it everywhere, but we can do it in a lot of places.   It’s time to use all the tools at our disposal.

Random Musings on Ads and PR

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So, there’s some television commercial for something – I can’t even tell you what it’s for – where a woman is sitting in a chair on a beach looking at a tablet while some guy – I suppose it’s her husband – is vacuuming the sand beach.    Then the scene flips to her sitting in the living room looking at her tablet with her husband vacuuming the floor.    Like I said, I don’t know what the commercial is for, but it has something to do with her envisioning her home being like a tropical paradise or something.

All I could think of was “I wonder if they made the guy vacuum because if they’d have a woman vacuum while a guy is sitting around they would hear about it from a bunch of women?”

This may sound silly, but I’m willing to bet that this was discussed.

My issue isn’t that a guy was vacuuming.   I’ve done it.   Most married men at some point do, whether it’s the way the jobs typically break out or not.   I don’t take offense to the implication.

My issue is that we’ve somehow made any reference to traditional roles verboten.   You see it on ad after ad.   If women are cleaning or cooking it’s only because the man is too stupid to do it.   But usually it’s either a role reversal or it’s shown as a cooperative effort.    It’s just annoying.    Again, it really has nothing to do with whether or not a man can clean or cook.   That’s not my point.   Few, if any men, actually care that they are being shown in what might be considered an emasculated fashion.   And even if we care, we’re too lazy to complain about it, and it’s likely that the product isn’t meant for the typical guy anyway.    But the reverse isn’t true.    Products peddled for men often still make fun of men, even as they are trying to sell the goods to them.

Women want equality, but I’m seriously trying to remember the last time a woman has been made to look like an idiot while the man is the reasonable one.    The closest thing I can think of is the State Farm Commercial where the guy’s talking to an insurance agent and the woman freaks out.     Rarified air there.

Isolated, none of these ads are a major deal or problematic.   But when there is no real balance there is an ever-pervasive drip, drip, drip in the messaging that does, I believe change peoples’ attitudes over time.

Where I work, there is a poster that promotes the following:   “Stand out and get noticed.”    They want us to complete a profile page so we don’t miss the opportunity to showcase experience, skills, etc.

The picture on the poster is a woman standing up at the end of a table, hands placed on the table on either side of her, while she is hovering over other people who are all fixated on her.    The first thing that strikes me about this picture is that I can’t recall a whole lot of meetings I’ve been in where the person leading the meeting strikes this sort of posture.    It’s a position of noticeable elevation above other meeting participants, and has certain connotations.    I am quite certain that this would be looked at unfavorably if a man struck this posture.   But the marketing people know that they will not get pushback if a strong woman is pictured, whereas a picture of a man in this position would be misogynistic.

The other thing noticeable about the picture if one pays attention is, like all other advertising and corporate publications, there is this constant game that we play where everyone needs to be represented.   We’re so freakin’ afraid of getting sued that we need to show the largest spread of people with the fewest number of people.    So, you have the old indian guy, a middle-aged black woman, a young Asian woman, a young Hispanic male, a young white male and a white woman.    But wait…   no blondes are represented!    Discrimination much?     It’s silly, really.   But if you look at any game box, advertisement, or corporate brochure on anything these are the things we focus on.    Heaven forbid we miss a demographic.

What I think is funny is that I live in rural Wisconsin.    And we actually do have some diversity on our company’s workforce (a guy from China, a guy with Korean descent, a couple African-Americans, a couple guys from India…).   But the non-white population in our workforce is probably 2-3% of the total.    But if you look at our company’s brochure when recruiting, you’d swear it’s the other way around.

None of this offends me.   I just think it’s stupid.

 

 

Electoral Meanderings

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As a Catholic, I have a lot of thoughts about the Electoral College vs. Popular vote, etc.

OK, so being Catholic has little or nothing to do with that, but since this is called Catholic Diatribes I figured I’d remind everyone that I’m Catholic.

In no particular order of points, here we go:

  • The debate about whether or not the Popular Vote should be the determining factor in deciding the winner of the Presidential Election is understandable if viewed from a high-level perspective without a lot of deeper thought. Sure, it’s simple enough to think in terms of the democratic process – one person, one vote, most votes win.    But actually, this is not at all how our country is constructed.    And to view it in this way completely dismantles the way our citizens are represented, and the way our country actually operates.   We are not simply one country as a singular unit.   We never have been.    We are a country formed of fifty states plus the District of Columbia, joined together to form a country, but with each of those units having a say.   As I discuss some of the other points, this is the underlying issue that must be considered.    We are not, never have been, and barring a rewrite of the Constitution never will be a pure democracy.   We are a Republic.    Each unit in that Republic engages in a democratic process, but only to elect those who will then represent us.    We don’t vote on every law or regulation or issue – we elect someone who will on our behalf.   So we are not a pure democracy.
  • Making the argument that the Electoral College is unfair because it doesn’t amount to perfectly proportional weight of each individual’s vote can be extended to representation. Right now, every state, no matter how big or small, gets equal representation in the Senate.    Because of this, the folks who live in the least populous state actually have the largest voice in Congress on a per capita basis.    And even though the House of Representatives is proportional representation, there is still a minimum of 1 representative for the smallest states.    So, even in the House, the smallest state has the weightiest representation per person.   Our entire system is designed to make sure that the most populous states have a lower overall weight so that a small area of the country that has a high population density is less able to dictate policy to the rest of the country, potentially extending to large geographical regions.
  • Making the argument that the Electoral College is unfair is arguing that the states do not matter, and that – for this exercise, anyway – the country is a singular entity. This is simply not how we operate on anything.    Yes, there are federal laws and regulations, but those layer on top of state laws and regulation.    In this case, we are saying that we need to replace state elections with a federal one.    Maybe this is reasonable, maybe it isn’t, but it is a very fundamental difference from how we operate today.
  • There are some fun facts around the latest results that help demonstrate the wisdom of the Electoral College. Probably the most amazing statistic is this:   There are 3,151 counties in the United States.   Donald Trump won 3,084 of those counties.    And yet, Hillary Clinton is going to win the official Popular Vote.     That is actually really amazing.    And while I can sort of understand this whole “popular vote” argument, I simply cannot fathom how someone can’t see the wisdom in having a system that allows for the case where the candidate that wins 97.9% of the counties really deserves to be the President, even if he/she loses the total popular vote.
  • Another thing that needs to be considered as well is whether or not the actual results of the Popular Vote would have been the actual result if the winner was determined by Popular Vote. People are suggesting – either correctly or incorrectly – that the results of the election would be the same regardless of how the winner is determined.    This is far from certain.    Think about the fact that Donald Trump spent ALL of his time campaigning in the swing states.   California?   New York?    Almost no time at all, even though they have the highest two populations.    Illinois?    Since that state is driven by the results of Chicago, very little time was spent there.     The reason is simple strategy and resources.    Donald Trump may well have been able to get an extra million votes or two had he needed to spend money and time in those popular areas.    But he didn’t.   Why?    Because it made no sense with the Electoral College.    Losing California by 100 votes is no different than losing California by 3 million votes.     While this may not seem fair, because it means the candidates don’t go to fight for votes in those states, that’s just the flip side of what would happen if elections were driven by popular vote.    In that case, it wouldn’t just be a particular state getting ignored, it would be most of the United States.    The vast majority of campaigning would be in all the most populous areas.   Not necessarily the states, but just those zip codes or counties.    There are 45 counties in the United States that have 1.0 million or more people living in them.    Those 45 counties represent about 25% of the total population of the US.    County #100 has over 600,000 residents.    The top 100 counties represent just over 3% of total counties in the US, but you can bet that the majority of campaigning would be in those counties.    If ALL campaigning was centered on urban areas, the President would end up being even more out of touch with ordinary Americans than they already are.
  • Another fun map to look at is a red/blue map of who won which counties and overlay that with a red/blue map of highest crime rates. Just sayin’.
  • If you still need to be convinced about this, suppose we don’t talk about counties but we talk about a single state that has 51% of the population and all other states having an equal 1% share of the remaining population (for this exercise ignore Washington DC). Theoretically speaking, that one state could dictate who the President would be for the remaining 49 states.    While it may be a stretch to think that everyone in that state would vote similarly, it certainly isn’t a stretch that the difference in popular vote could be gigantic – all one need to do is look at the fact that 4 counties in NYC contributed over a 1.5 million vote advantage for Hillary Clinton – nearly 75% of the total popular vote gap.    California alone is going to have a 3 million vote difference.
  • The reason the Electoral College works is because it is a balance of Popular Vote and equal representation of the states in selecting the President of the entire U.S. – not just a few counties. The Electoral College count is 538, which is the total of Representatives and Senators (plus 3 for Washington DC, which in my opinion was unnecessarily overstated – I’m not sure why they felt it was necessary to treat that like a full state – but whatever).  The House generally represents the states in proportion to population, while the Senate does not.   So, the Electoral College lands in between the two – balancing geography and population.    Quite frankly, it’s genius.

 

All Hail the Wisconsin Recount

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Diatribe time.

This Wisconsin Presidential recount is the most stupid, pointless, time-wasting, money-wasting, asinine, desperate,politically irrelevant and inane thing I’ve seen in some time.

I live in Wisconsin.   The recount started today.   Even here, it’s not really news.    Nobody expects anything to change, and everyone is rolling their their eyes.   It’s remarkably idiotic.

Anyone who got scammed out of any money by contributing to this epic fail deserves to have had that money scammed.    Thank you for sending your funds to Wisconsin.   We appreciate it.   All the vote-counters will have a little extra money to spend on Christmas presents.   Maybe pro-Trump items will fly off the shelves after he wins here a second time.   Everyone loves a winner.

Jill Stein is probably going to clear a million by the time she’s done.   You guys who sent her money are morons.

 

It’s Just a Joke!

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So, on my Facebook news feed I saw an article about some woman named Brandi something or another who is some real housewife of something that I don’t care about, and even though I’m going to write about it now I don’t even care enough to find out her name or why she’s in any way famous.

Anyway, this woman took an Instagram photo of herself squatting over the baby Jesus in a Nativity scene, simulating (I guess) giving birth.   She had some caption on the pic along the lines of “Remember the reason for the season.”

The whole thing is stupid and childish, and offensive.   But whatever – it’s a free country, and I feel dumber for even knowing about this woman.

The more interesting side of the article to me was that she received really negative feedback about the picture even from people who claimed to be fans, and people who claimed that they were neither Christian nor religious.

Apparently she’s an atheist, but her initial response was along the lines of “It’s a joke people.   Get a sense of humor.”    I think her version included an f-bomb, because as we all know f-bombs make your argument better and clearer.

I mulled this over a bit, for some reason that even I don’t understand.   I am a Christian and the picture offended me.   I also realized that I don’t really care what she thinks all that much and the picture reflects on her quite poorly.    I don’t even know who she is and I don’t care enough to find out.   I actually just pity her and hope she finds her way.   It should be noted that she did eventually take the picture down.   I guess she didn’t apologize, which was fine because most of those apologies are insincere anyway, and are usually along the lines of “I’m sorry all you stupid people who can’t take a joke are offended.”    Simply taking the pic down is probably more honest.   She probably realizes it’s not worth the hassle, she alienated some fans, so it’s time to move on.   She’s really not sorry for it, so why say otherwise?

But what held my inner attention the longest was this idea that whenever people mock other people in a degrading way, they rely on the “it’s just a joke” defense.    It’s worth considering what that means.   We have probably all walked the line between harmless joke and potentially offensive joke at one time or another.   I can remember getting into an argument with some woman who is blond who said “Blond jokes are never funny, ever.”    I disagreed.   And I still do.   Some are funny.    But some are mean.    And I think what happened there is she had personal experiences from utterly mean individuals who mercilessly teased her about her blondness and beyond.    While it is probably true that good people will disagree on exactly where that line between “have a little sense of humor, don’t be so politically correct, and don’t get offended by everything” and “that is offensive and inappropriate” I do think that reasonable and good people can agree that there exists such a line, and we should do our best to not cross it.

Some take the attitude that we should never even go there.   We should, at all costs, avoid any potential offense.   I personally believe this is entirely wrong and problematic.   I understand the reasoning and I think the intentions are good.   But it’s part of what ails our country.   We’ve reached a point where we can’t say anything offensive at all about anybody on anything, and the judge of what constitutes offense is the progressive left.    In their view, religion itself is offensive.   The bible is offensive.   And so on.    We are a much healthier society if we learn to live with a little stereotypical humor about ourselves.   And yes, even if it crosses a line, we should be willing to brush it off and move on with our lives.    Better to err on that side of the equation than to try and muzzle all potentially offensive words universally.

Some take the attitude that everything is “just a joke.”    That’s a cop-out, and it’s not true.    The real question one should ask is whether or not engaging in stereotypical humor serves as its main purpose a good and funny joke, or whether the main intent is to demean and mock.    This really isn’t a difficult question.    When an atheist squats over the baby Jesus in a Nativity Scene only an idiot doesn’t see that as a statement that says “I’m mocking the Virgin Birth and what Christians believe.”    If you tell the joke about the kid praying for a bicycle for Christmas by telling Jesus “If you ever want to see your mother again…” while putting a Mary statue in a drawer, then that is funny.    Could that be taken offensively by some?   Sure, I suppose.   Should we really be joking about holding Mary hostage?     Well, the joke is more about what the mind of an innocent kid who desperately wants a bike for Christmas is like.   It’s funny.   The other is a crass mockery.   In the one case, most Christians will either be outright offended or not find it funny at all, and even non-Christians find it tasteless.   In the other case, many Christians will see the humor.

Here’s a hint:   if you hate Christians or consider them stupid, then there is a high degree of probability that your “joke” is not “just a joke” but is demeaning and offensive.  I’m not saying that is universally true, but you probably should be more careful about whether or not that is the case.   And if you get that kind of reaction, then the blindness is yours, not others.    I’m not saying that Christians can’t cross that same line – they can.   They are just less likely to.

The same is true whether we’re talking about Christians, Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Whites, Women, Men, Blondes, or Eskimos.    If you have a hatred or distaste for any group of people and you are “just making a joke” then are probably at higher risk of crossing a line.    Just accept it, and maybe do something about that by looking inward.

But let’s not get crazy.   Jokes are good.   Not taking yourself too seriously is good.    I mean, if you’re blonde and can’t find the humor in ANY blonde joke, then I think you are doing yourself a disservice.   Or, perhaps, more accurately the fault lies on others who killed your sense of humor on the subject.   And I am sorry if that is the case.   But try to move on.

I still have a copy of a bulletin from the Wisconsin Department of State, bulletin 91-92 issued January 1, 1992.   Subject: Automobile Dimmer Switches.  (I’ll skip over a lot of it, so it will lose a bit of the feel of authenticity)

  • Pursuant to the WI Dept of Motor Vehicles Act… All motor vehicles… will be required to have the headlight switch mounted on the floorboard. The dimmer switch must be mounted in a position accessible to operation by pressing the switch with the left foot.  The switch must be far enough from the left foot pedal to avoid inadvertent operation or pedal confusion.
  • …all other vehicles with steering column mounted dimmer switches must be retrofitted… Vehicles which have not made this change will fail … safety inspection…
  • …This change is being made in the interest of public safety… A recent study … has shown that 95% of all Wisconsin nighttime highway accidents are caused by a blonde getting her foot caught in the steering wheel while attempting to dim the headlights.

Come on…   that’s funny!

The Vaccination Question, finding the Trail to the Moral High Ground

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Part of being a Catholic is to weigh whether or not any action you take or don’t take in the course of life has not only an explicit moral element, but also an implicit one.    For example, if I work honestly and effectively at my job, the most direct measure of morality of that action is that I am doing what I am called to do at that moment, that I am not being lazy, and that I am using my God-given abilities.    The implicit moral element is that I am not harming my employer financially (at least not purposely, assuming I am doing my job correctly).   If my inaction at work costs the company an account, this is an ancillary result of my laziness.   Harm has been done.

The debate about vaccinations is an interesting one.  On the one hand, there are a lot of opinions that people have regarding vaccines and most people who arrive on one side or the other believe that people who arrive at different conclusions are wrong.    I am not writing this piece to debate whether or not vaccines are perfectly safe and effective.   Full disclosure – we do not vaccinate our children.    This decision was not taken lightly.    However, I am also not against others determining that they feel perfectly comfortable making the decision that vaccines are a safe and effective option for their own children.

My wife and I are quite informed on both sides of the issue.   We recognize there are certain risks in not vaccinating our kids.  We also recognize the risks in vaccinating our kids.   It also bothers me that there seems to be an almost overzealous view of the real risk of contracting many of the things we are vaccinated for.   To be sure, the descriptions are scary.    But the probabilities of contracting these things multiplied by the probabilities that the worst of the consequences, to be perfectly frank, are not.   So it seems to be a reasonable question as to whether or not the certain action of jamming a needle into my kid’s arm and injecting a foreign substance has ramifications that outweigh the probability of harm done from what I am protecting them against.   At least I find this a reasonable question.   But to my chagrin, many do not find it reasonable at all.    According to more and more voices in government and otherwise, not vaccinating is akin to child abuse.   It’s a bizarre idea in my mind to take this leap in logic, but it’s definitely the vibe one gets in not-so-subtle ways when simply trying to do what’s best for your family.

I get it.   I have not immunized my kid against, say, measles.    It is a somewhat uncomfortable choice, but it is an informed one.   But yes, the day could come where my kid contracts measles, and all the world will glare at me and shake a finger as if to say “I told you so.”   Now, as is more likely the case, none of my kids ever contract measles, all will be ignored, or at most I’ll be considered “lucky.”    And in the small chance my kid gets measles, the very highly probably scenario is that it will really suck for a while, and then the kid will recover, and then he or she will have the full immunity that comes with contracting the illness.

I’m not glib about it, and I am not going to spend pages explaining why we made this decision.   But I will address the “community” aspect of this.   It’s a legitimate concern, and one worthy of consideration from a moral point of view.    The argument is this:   because I did not vaccinate my kids, I put other people at risk.   The people at risk, in particular, are those who have weakened immune systems who cannot get vaccinations and others who received vaccinations in the past, but for whatever reason the vaccine has lost its effectiveness.  Doesn’t the moral high ground imply that all of us should vaccinate our otherwise healthy kids?

There’s a very simple answer to this, in my opinion:   No.

I am not saying that this is not worth thinking about.   And if someone comes to a different conclusion on this moral question, then as a matter of conscience go ahead and get your kids vaccinated even if you otherwise would not.

But I do not believe this is the moral high ground.   We are never asked by our Church to do anything to ourselves or to others (in this case, our kids) that causes harm even if it is done with the idea of helping others.    Yes, it’s true that we are asked to sacrifice for others, and in some cases lay down our lives for others.  And perhaps I can even buy the argument that I should willingly vaccinate myself if it really helps others.    But I would never harm, hurt, or kill my own child to save someone else.     As a parent I am first and foremost called to defend and protect my family.   Period.

OK, OK.   I know the immediate response:   But you aren’t harming them!   You’re helping them!    You’re an idiot!

An idiot I may be, but again I am not writing this to get into the pro-vaccine/anti-vaccine debate with all the government propaganda and the anti-big-pharm propaganda and contradicting studies that either side can use to make their point.   I am just saying that some of us have decided – whether you accept it or not or like it or not – that we see more harm than good in injecting vaccines into our children.   Whether harm or potential harm is real or perceived, whether we’re wrong or right, whether we’re idiots or geniuses, in the end we are doing what we believe is in the best interests of our children.   And they are my primary concern.

Now, this doesn’t mean we just don’t care about anyone else.   But it does mean, perfectly honestly, that your appeal to me to do the “moral” thing by inflicting what I perceive to be harm on my child so that your child can be safer is not going to fly.    This isn’t meant to be harsh, it’s just reality:   why would I place your child’s interests above mine?    I wouldn’t, and that’s a perfectly reasonable position.

The other part of this that makes this a bit of an empty appeal, in my opinion, is that my kids are simply very unlikely to (a) get this disease and (b) run into an at-risk person while a communicable state.    Could it happen?   Yeah, I guess it could.    But again, the probabilities are very low, and do not outweigh the certainty of getting vaccinated.

Having said all that, the moral question is certainly not an inappropriate thing to ponder.    But please, people.   Casting final judgment on someone who arrives at a different conclusion than you, either on the vaccine question itself or on the morality of making the decision to not vaccinate, is not helpful.    Nor is it doctrinally certain.    It is a point of view, and nothing more.

One final point I’d like to make isn’t around the moral question, but is with respect to our freedoms and liberties.    We Americans speak a lot of how we’re the land of the free and home of the brave.   But we are also pretty quick to punt the whole liberty thing away in exchange for feelings of safety and security, and we seem willing to impose things upon others in return for our own safety and security.    While there are many examples of this, the vaccine issue is a prime example.   The tyranny of the majority can be a scary thing, especially when the government itself openly encourages citizens to shame, ridicule, and outright bully other citizens to do something these other citizens are not comfortable doing, or are opposed to doing.     It should not even matter the reasons for it (why should a moral objection be excused but a decision based on information not be?).    On this issue, I have experienced first-hand the comments that are supposed to guilt me into changing my mind, the insults around how uninformed I am, and little acceptance that my right as a parent should supersede their own concerns about what that means for their kids.   I can only imagine the founding fathers’ reactions to the scenario where the government mandates the injection of anything into the bodies of individuals, including children, against the will of those individuals and children’s parents.    It’s actually pathetic, in my opinion, that so many feel perfectly fine with the idea of mandatory vaccination, showing no feeling of concern at all for the feelings and opinions of others.    How is that the moral high ground?

This issue should continue to be discussed amicably, and people should be informed fully of both supporting studies as well as an honest presentation of risks of side effects and studies that aren’t all favorable.   Give people all the facts and let them make their own decisions.   That is the moral high ground.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, and Happy Advent

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Since I don’t blog for a living, I will from time to time take extended breaks, since this isn’t my top priority.

That was the case over the last couple of weeks.    I started an extended vacation from work beginning November 17, and because I was trying to get everything in a place where it needed to be before I left, I haven’t submitted a blog post since a few days before that.

Today is just a check-in as I now begin the task of catching up from my time off!

A quick recap of my time off:

November 17 – My wife and I and a couple friends drove to Green Bay, Wisconsin and listened to Charlie Johnston speak.   I introduced myself as “The Diatribe Guy” after his talk and he was genuinely happy to see me.   It was nice to meet him in person.    He appreciated that I have a bit of a skeptical nature about the whole thing, while also keeping an open mind about it all.    I am respectful and try to provide a different view or insight when I comment on his blog and I think he recognizes that I am not a troll who is trying to play some game of “gotcha” but instead someone who is trying to understand, take it all in, keeping my wits about me, and maintaining prudence.    He didn’t say a whole lot I hadn’t heard him say or write before, but it’s always good to be in a small community with others.

November 18 – my birthday!   Yay me.    And as my birthday present I went to our garden an hour away to spread a mineral mix on it only for 50 mph winds to spring up out of nowhere and make spreading it impossible.   So I unloaded it and came back home.   While I was gone, our oven broke.   Since I have already paid for this oven twice because it keeps breaking down, we decide to get a new one.    My wife and I do a birthday dinner, shop for appliances, and go see a movie.   Jack Reacher.    It was OK – nothing special but a couple hours of mindless entertainment.   Lowe’s is on a two-week delivery schedule, and Thanksgiving is only 5 days away.   We pass.

November 19 – November 27:   Rifle deer hunting season in Wisconsin.    A time where the kids, the father-in-law, and me spend countless hours in the woods and see NOTHING.    Four year drought.   The only thing I got was a cold.

November 19: Appliance shopping – decide to go to a gas stove with a local dealer who can guarantee delivery by Thanksgiving.   but we are not set up for gas, so first need to find a plumber who can get to our house before Thanksgiving.     Vacation is stressful.   Wisconsin Badgers win in football, moving up to 6th in the national playoff rankings!

November 20 – Packers lost again.   Defense is horrible.

November 21:  While we are hunting in spurts throughout this whole week, this was the special day of triumph.   Spend all day at the father-in-law’s land a couple hours away, picking off huge Bucks!    Well, we spent all day there, froze our butts off and finally saw a doe about 200 yards away facing away from us with about 15 minutes left in the hunting day.    Too far to take the shot for my son, who was the only one allowed to shoot a doe in this county.   That’s as close as we got all season to shooting a deer.    My wife actually found a plumber who could come over the next day.

November 22: We have gas in the kitchen!   Well, I always have gas in the kitchen, but I mean the natural kind that runs appliances.

November 23 – Spent half the day in a dentist’s chair.    A crown in my mouth cracked.   That has been drilled out, my nub is now even a smaller nub, and a temporary crown is on. I texted my sister and said that I think my Purgatory will be continued dental work in a confined space with spiders crawling on me.   Her response was “If that is Purgatory, then Hell sounds better.”    I couldn’t even argue.   Our gas stove is delivered!   We can now make a Thanksgiving meal.

November 24:   Happy Thanksgiving!    Great meal with the whole family.   Very nice day, despite my mouth hurting from the dental work.   Despite my wife’s nervousness about getting used to gas and convection oven cooking, everything was awesome.

November 25 – 27: Lots of hunting.    My father-in-law has a habit of picking a spot to park on public land and then walking to the furthest possible point on that land from where we parked.

November 26: Badgers won again – Big Ten East Champions – will play in the Big Ten title game next week against Penn State.   Will likely remain 6th in the rankings, possibly moving to 5th.   Need to finish top four to make the playoff.

 

Looking at that recap is a synopsis of life.    A couple hurdles and unexpected irritations that need to be dealt with – so you deal with them.   You can let it get you down or you can just move forward.   Some things of highest value that bring you joy (God, family, thankfulness, time together), things you try to do but don’t succeed at and you learn from it and move on, some frivolous pursuits that bring some added color and entertainment to life…    If I recapped every week of my life it would probably look something like that.

 

So let’s move on.   It’s Advent.   Life will be busy, but when you look back at each week will you see a lot of pointless busyness at the expense of things that would have been more important, or do you see a good balance.     I look above and I like the balance overall.    In the woods, I even spent some of that time in prayer and contemplating God.

But I was on vacation – toss in my work schedule and suddenly the balance becomes harder to achieve.    I’m going to try my best to maintain a proper balance during Advent – and beyond.