Friday, October 29, 2010

Political DNA?

There have been a couple of articles recently which claim to validate the theory that individuals are predisposed toward either conservative or liberal mindsets according to their DNA. Jeremy A. Kaplan wrote a piece entitled, Researchers Find the ‘Liberal Gene’ , which appeared on the Fox News website.

“A new study has concluded that ideology is not just a social thing; it’s built into the DNA, borne along by a gene called DRD4. Tagged “the liberal gene,” DRD4 is the first specific bit of human DNA that predisposes people to certain political views, the study’s authors claim.”

When I first read the article a flag of caution began waving in the back of my mind, an unsettled feeling that perhaps we were treading on thin ice; venturing into areas that should be avoided. What are the dangers in dabbling into human DNA’s possible link to political predisposition?

There was a scene in the movie Jurassic Park where the primary characters were sitting around a conference table having lunch. The grand design of Jurassic Park, its miraculous scientific journey from test tube to reality was being portrayed as a success, an amusement park to awe and inspire; not to mention make them all very rich.

Dr. Ian Malcolm, mathematician and chaos theorist, played by Jeff Goldblum, pointed out his concern regarding work which had enabled scientists to genetically recreate dinosaurs from DNA samples extracted from mosquitoes trapped in amber.

“Don’t you see the danger…inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planets’ ever seen; but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun. Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether of not they could; they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Look at today’s political climate; just this past week President Obama, while addressing Hispanic voters regarding implementation of immigration reform ( amnesty ), clearly identified a good portion of American citizens as enemies, “Those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values.” He had a line which should make us stop in our tracks.

“We’re gonna’ punish our enemies and we’re gonna’ reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are import to us.”

Consider the opportunities for abuse when a totalitarian government, no longer held in check by our constitution, decides to punish its enemies (conservatives) and reward its friends. We now have scientists claiming to have isolated a gene which presumably is favorable toward liberal thinking. Historically the books are full of regimes which have carefully “eliminated” those considered unfriendly toward the government’s agenda.

But that could never happen here in America, land of the free and home of the brave…

This is the same President who had government take over private industry; GM, Chrysler, the mortgage industry and Wall Street. He set in motion health care reform which will destroy private sector health insurance making the government’s single payer system the only alternative once the free market system has evaporated.

November 2nd would be a good time to start reversing the damage already done. Vote to restore conservative values before they are outlawed or “scientifically” determined to be inferior to the political DNA gene pool.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Triple the Cripple

Last night the 11 year old scouts began documenting their ability to keep fit; sit-ups, push-up and a roughly measured ¼ mile course hastily put together behind the church. A month from now we’ll do these same exercises, document their improvements and mark this all down in their advancement books as they strive to achieve the rank of 1st Class.

To get things started the other assistant scout master and I decided we’d set the example and run with the boys. “Are you sure this is a good idea with your knee being messed up?” I figured I could do more walking than running; but it turned out I still have a competitive nature which even arthritis can’t diminish.

It started out with excruciating pain; each stride landing on my bad knee sent shock waves of pain up and down my leg. Instead of running it was more akin to hobbling at a faster pace; laugh if you will but I was making progress and the boys were so far ahead they hardly noticed how silly it looked as my walking cane bounced out of rhythm with each successive stride. Eventually I simply held the cane horizontal with the ground as it was only getting in the way.

“Are you sure you want to continue?” I was already laughing at myself about a hundred yards down field when I felt it; the pain disappeared. What ever the source of major discomfort, it had mysteriously been put aside and there was immediate relief from pain. This isn’t to say my lungs and sides weren’t begging me to stop; I’m still out of shape and need to get off the couch.

We gathered at the finish line and acknowledged the fact that we would all do much better a month from now when temperatures would be more favorable. We’d set a record for this date in October which went back a hundred years or more, 94 degrees; that along with high humidity explained steady beads of sweat which ran down our faces.

Next the boys were to do as many sit-ups as they could; again, I thought it would be best if I started it off. I haven’t done sit-ups in years; something to do with my back grinding on the hard floor is a natural turn off; that and turning into a lazy couch potato gave the boys something to laugh at. I managed to grunt out 10 sit-ups and tried to look pleased; a sorry excuse for something which years ago I could have done without a care.

The next boy easily passed my 10; but started to show wear as he hit his 28th sit-up. From off to the side all the boys were encouraging him to continue. Andrew, a feisty and overly energetic boy yelled out, “Triple the cripple! Come on, just two more and you triple the cripple!”

Some folks might have gotten their feelings hurt at such a bold and insensitive ribbing; but I saw it as a chance to have fun, these were after all 11 year old boys. None of them noticed I’d put the walking cane against the wall and wasn’t using it for support at the moment; that’s right, I was sitting. Before you could say “Obamacare” the rest of the boys were all chanting, “Triple the cripple!”

We did push-ups and managed to have a good time pointing out “variations in form” as these young couch potatoes each proved how badly an exercise program was needed. It should be interesting next month when we compare these numbers with what hopefully will be major improvements.

One item remained on the list, at least for last night, the standing broad jump. I should point out that when I was young and flexible the standing broad jump was as natural as a bull frog jumping off a lily pad. My “springs” were well suited, that and being several pounds lighter might have had something to do with my agility.

“Is this a good idea?” What would I do without my assistant scout leader reminding me I’m 60 years old, walk with a cane and grimace each time my leg bends? Ignoring these minor issues I approached the starting line; working mostly from memories of how to fluidly launch a stationary but highly tuned body from point A to point B.

Remarkably it still felt pretty good and, with the pain in my knee momentarily abated, a feeling of confidence overtook good sense. Lift off was marginally good; but oh, that landing. There was a brilliant flash of light as soon as my right leg landed hard on the floor. The pain level was such that holding the landing spot no longer was important as I let gravity take hold.

I rolled backwards, my head resting close to the point I’d started; so much for setting a new record in the standing broad jump. The boys enjoyed the show and as each new contestant stepped up to the line, “Triple the cripple” echoed off the walls. It should be noted, my assistant scout master proved to be excellent in nearly every event, the standing broad jump was as smooth as they get.

I wonder if these young boys know how much competitive spirit is contained in these old bones, the young athlete held hostage inside this tattered frame. It was forty years ago when I was involved in gymnastics at Sam Houston State University. I wasn’t all that good at it; but I only admit that in hindsight, all the same I was in excellent physical condition. Next month should be illuminating as this old guy works a little harder each day to, “Triple the cripple”.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Case Against Red Light Cameras

Municipalities all across the nation have installed traffic cameras that issue citations to folks who run red lights or, in some instances citations for excessive speed. Traffic citations are issued under the flawed logic that a police officer reviews each photograph which somehow satisfies the law’s demand for a competent witness.

I want you to think for a moment about how important witnesses are in the American justice system. If you went to court for a traffic ticket issued by a police officer the officer would have to satisfy the demands of a system which presumes innocence rather than guilt until such time as evidence gathered in the court room is presented and a verdict is reached either by a judge or jury.

Sometime during the trial there would be an opportunity to ask the officer questions which determine his/her vantage point. “Officer, at the time of the alleged incident, where were you positioned?” The answer to this question ascertains whether he/she was able to see the color of the light prior to any vehicle entering the intersection and sets the stage for validating the light system was operating properly, that no extenuating circumstances were in play at the time of the incident and also includes an opportunity to establish the officer’s experience regarding traffic violations.

In the case of traffic camera issued citations the officer’s answer would have to be, “I was across town sitting at a desk and never observed the alleged violation. I did; however, get to look at a snapshot taken the night before by a camera which I’m told is accurate and never makes mistakes. The photograph clearly showed a vehicle, its license plate issued to the defendant, entered the intersection after the light changed red.”

“Officer; can you tell me who was driving the vehicle, what traffic conditions were or anything the driver may have said immediately after the alleged violation?”

“As I stated a moment ago, I wasn’t actually present at the time of the alleged violation. The photograph only showed what kind of vehicle entered the intersection a moment after the light changed along with a clear image of that vehicle’s license plate. The camera system isn’t capable of recording the information you asked for.”

“Thank you for your honesty, Officer. No further questions.”

For lack of evidence the ticket would have to be dismissed because our system is based on the assumption that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. To prove anyone guilty there has to be a competent witness to offer testimony. Mechanical devices, regardless of how efficiently they operate are incapable of being witnesses and yet; and this is the heart of the case against the use of traffic camera citations, part of the so called validation for use of mechanical devices is that each and every photograph is reviewed by a certified police officer. Can you say “male bovine excrement”?

Next Tuesday folks in Houston are supposed to vote on Proposition 3, a chance to approve the use of Red Light Traffic Ticket Cameras which are already in use. I’ve heard radio spots paid for by a group in favor of this measure with support from doctors, police officers and firefighters all claiming that such enforcement techniques save lives.

I’m a retired Houston Police officer and consider folks who run red lights to be some of the most dangerous drivers on the road. Writing a traffic ticket for running a red light was very satisfying; however, I knew the case had to be adjudicated properly and my testimony would be required in court. I kept good notes and was able to answer all the questions raised above; justice was properly served by following accepted basic principles.

Here’s a more important consideration; under our constitutional form of government, can an individual’s right to a fair trial be voted away by popular vote? If you answer anything but an emphatic “NO!” then our country is in more trouble than you are aware. If we’d sell our souls for the price of a red light camera fine, what else would we toss in the toilet?

I rest my case.

Photograph is courtesy of The Texas Highwayman .

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fresh Fruit Vending Machine?

Have you ever heard someone explain how you don’t need to re-invent the wheel? There’s a story by Ilan Brat courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, The Great Banana Challenge , which explains some of the difficulties faced when attempting to move from junk food vending machines toward more nutritious snacks.

“But dispensing fresh produce comes with a particular set of challenges. Fruits and vegetables spoil a lot more quickly than a bag of pretzels. They cost more to stock and carry a higher price tag. Getting the temperature right is tricky, too: Bananas need to be stored at a higher temperature than cantaloupe to stay fresh. And then there’s the bruising issue: A banana can easily get squished from the 4-foot fall from a machine’s top shelf.”

Glancing at the line, “Fruits and vegetables spoil a lot more quickly than a bag of pretzels”, brought a smile since that particular statement really isn’t true. My grandfather, Daniel Vincent Wadsworth (we called my grandfather by marriage Waddy), was a sugar chemist and in his retirement years he dedicated much of his time to developing a means whereby the chemical decomposition of fruits and vegetables was slowed or even halted; enough that it was difficult to tell the difference between a piece of fruit picked yesterday from one picked six weeks earlier, so much for the term “fresh fruit”.

He figured out the chemical make up of an inexpensive coating which stopped fruit from spoiling for a significant time period. I was fairly young and perhaps he was pulling my leg when he handed me an orange which he claimed was several months old, an orange which appeared and tasted in every way “fresh”; instinct tells me he was telling the truth, something about the way he explained it validated his words.

I’m told Waddy was paid a handsome amount by one of the large food companies to make the formula “disappear”; maybe the secret is sitting on a shelf collecting dust at General Foods or one of the other huge corporate giants. In either case, refrigeration may not be the answer to making fruits and vegetables available for vending machines; the chemical process which causes them to deteriorate can be inhibited at room temperature.

There you have it, one of the mysteries of the universe; why would a civilized society intentionally hide a secret which makes fruits and vegetables less susceptible to spoilage? How much food is thrown away each day because it no longer appears desirable? What’s it worth to the world to make our food supply last a bit longer? I only ask because with the threat of Climate Change, either colder or hotter, wouldn’t it be wise to save for the day when crops produce less or fail due to shorter growing seasons?

This picture originally appeared on Meridian Magazine’s website during one of their fundraising drives. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we took stock of our blessings, an abundance of food being one of them? There’s an old saying, “Waste not want not”; showing our gratitude by making better use of what has been provided seems appropriate.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fighting for Agency Doesn’t Mean I’m Crazy

One more piece of the puzzle fell into place as a light bulb flickered in my mind; I’ll explain. It occurred to me why so many of my fellow locksmiths, particularly those in positions of leadership; why they don’t take my warnings regarding the DPS/PSB more seriously, some have implied my sanity was in question. I’d remarked the other day how some, perhaps many, of my fellow locksmiths discount my passion for preserving individual liberty and constraining government as a sign I need ‘professional help’. Some might call me crazy; but only those who know me better than these folks.

“As I sat across the counter exchanging view points it became evident that my friendly competitor was far more in tune with diplomacy and how to work with the socialists in power at the DPS/PSB. Even so, it bothered me how easily the words fell from his lips; that we need to accept the fact that Big Government was in control and there was little if anything we as independent locksmiths could do about it.”

Experience has taught me to evaluate and re-evaluate important issues and maintain standards that are correct with the same passion which got me started to begin with. Those standards include the agency of man, one of the most important gifts from God and which serves as a foundation for nearly everything America stands for; or at least it did until recently.

It hadn’t occurred to me, at least not until I reviewed some of the talks given by leaders of my church; the meaning of ‘agency’ might not be generally known. I listened to the archived talk given by Robert D. Hales, Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life , wherein he explained a similar circumstance.

“Recently I received a letter from a friend of over 50 years who is not a member of our church. I had sent him some gospel-related reading, to which he responded: “Initially it was hard for me to follow the meaning of typical Mormon jargon, such as agency. Possibly a short vocabulary page would be helpful.”’

“I was surprised he did not understand what we mean by the word agency. I went to an online dictionary. Of the 10 definitions and usages of the word agency, none expressed the idea of making choices to act. We teach that agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and “to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon.” Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions. Our agency is essential to the plan of salvation. With it we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”’

Did you catch that, “…agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and “to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon”. Too many of my fellow locksmiths are willing to surrender their individual liberties through mandates imposed by a government agency such as the DPS/PSB, often without putting up the slightest squawk. Even worse, these same folks are willing to surrender my individual liberties, as if they had the right.

One of my favorite ‘standards’ to draw from is Ezra Taft Benson’s, The Proper Role of Government , as it clarifies in the most simple of terms the relationship of individuals with others under our Republican form of government.

“Leaving aside, for a moment, the question of the divine origin of rights, it is obvious that a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: “WE THE PEOPLE… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form? A hypothetical question? Yes, indeed! But, it is a question which is vital to an understanding of the principles which underlie the proper function of government.”

That simple explanation holds the answer to why the DPS/PSB has no authority to mandate how any individual locksmith runs his/her business. Somewhere an important fundamental step has been ignored; government can only enforce rules and regulations which “We the People” have individually, those within our own limited agency.

It boils down to one idea; can my competitor (s) establish rules and regulations which govern the operation of my locksmith business? Clearly the answer is, no; they might suggest alternatives, but they can never mandate based on the fact that God’s gift of agency applies equally to all. My competitors have the right to dictate rules and regulations which govern their own businesses; but it would be preposterous to presume they have the right to impose those rules on another’s business.

It then follows, they can’t assign that power to government, which by definition is a “relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized.”

When I stand firmly against mandates imposed on the locksmith industry by the DPS/PSB, passionately arguing that such mandates are nothing more than tyranny; I’m not crazy, just standing up for basic principles which have been recorded in our history. What bothers me; why am I not surrounded by others who recognize this tyranny?

This is a perfect opportunity to invite my fellow locksmiths to join Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America . You don’t have to attend any meetings and all you need is an internet connection to obtain access to articles just like this one.

In closing I offer a thought from the Book of Mormon as found in Alma, chapter 46 , where Captain Moroni demonstrated his love of liberty and acknowledged it before God.

“And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.

And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land…”

The picture, Captain Moroni Holding the Title of Liberty Flag , was painted by Walter Rane, an accomplished Christian artist. It may be purchased in a variety of sizes and formats.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

This will also appear as a feature article on Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America’s website .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yearning for days gone by

My folks have a painting in their living room, a pastoral hunting scene by Currier and Ives. It serves as an historical reminder of days gone by, rural landscapes with horses and dogs chasing through the brush, their riders dressed fashionably for the ride.

Glancing through the internet I found a similar painting by Currier and Ives called, Fox Hunt . It was a simple rendering on canvas; dogs and horsemen awaiting the hunt, a reminder of how things used to be prior to suburbia and shopping malls. Viewing the painting, a few assumptions could be made; the most obvious, those involved were members of the aristocracy or at the very least men of means to be arrayed in such finery.

The picture of groomed horses trained to jump obstacles and obey a riders command during the hunt portrayed a certain elevated station in life. A pack of hunting dogs indicated a rather large investment; care and grooming as well as years of breading for the sole purpose of hunting at the whims of an owner who enjoyed the hunt is difficult for the average working man to comprehend. While we can appreciate the singular beauty of such a scene; not many of us can afford such a luxury; maybe it’s the age old story of class envy, a yearning for something out of reach.

I saw a photograph posted on the internet of a fox hunt; the early morning fog blended the dreamlike vision in such a way as to remind me of those Currier and Ives paintings. I saved the picture to file thinking someday I’d share it; today must have been that day.

That brings me to an on going court case in which the Philadelphia SPCA staged a series of blunders which needs to be sorted out. I’ve been following a set of articles posted by JDZ at a website called Never Yet Melted over the past year or so and have mixed feelings as to what is right and wrong with the whole mess created by PSPCA; but I’ll get to that later, here’s the lead in as posted most recently.

“After more than 14 months, all 22 counts of animal cruelty charged against Murder Hollow Bassets master Wendy Willard in August of 2009 by the Pennsylvania Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) in Philadelphia County were withdrawn on October 5, 2010 in Philadelphia Municipal Court. Wendy was also found to be in complete compliance with all applicable statutes.

You may recall that on July 27, 2009, the life of Wendy Willard, a retired social studies teacher and nationally recognized Master of a pack of hounds known as Murder Hollow Bassets, changed forever. That day, using a warrant obtained following a trespass on her property, the PSPCA searched Wendy’s barn, seized 11 of 23 hounds and pressured her to sign so-called “surrender agreements” by threatening to take the other 12 dogs and subjecting her to a heavy fine if she refused.

The search and seizure was performed under the guise of enforcing the Philadelphia “limit law,” applicable only to residential dwelling units, and not a barn inhabited by dogs. However, before Wendy was charged with anything, and without notification to her, all of the hounds were spayed and neutered after their seizure. Worse still one of the hounds was killed as a result of a botched attempt at surgery during the mass spay/neuter operations performed by the PSPCA. The 10 remaining live hounds became infected with a lung virus in the PSPCA’s facility. The PSPCA then sent those 10, with medications, to an unlicensed “rescue” operation that sold them all for “adoption” before any hearing on the charges took place.”

Somewhere in all those words the idea of tyranny came to mind, a nagging thing called due process might have been ignored; but more importantly there’s the issue of property rights. At what point did PSPCA determine they had gained the right to another’s property, enough that they were permitted to do as they pleased without the consent of either the courts or the rightful owner?

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”

-- John Adams (A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787)

There is something terribly wrong in America; private property is no longer considered sacred. Maybe the folks at PSPCA don’t like the idea of folks using dogs to hunt; could it be that simple?

I read an account, humorous to a point; but true to a fault on how to tell the difference between conservatives and liberals .  One of the examples used had to do with firearms, “If a conservative doesn’t like guns, they don’t buy them. If a liberal doesn’t like guns, then no one else should have one either.” I suppose the same could be considered with hunting dogs, the idea of running them through the brush, thorns and ticks, mud and injuries; not to mention the terrified fox being chased down simply for sport.

The problem with applying this type of selective rational is it violates every concept of private property. It suggests that society has the power, not the right; but the power to dictate the presumed proper use of property based on collective judgment rather than individual determination.

Ezra Taft Benson reminded us a talk he gave, The Proper Role of Government , of something recorded in the Alabama Declaration of Rights:

“That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.”

Benson continued the thought:

“This means, then, that the proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No man possesses such power to delegate. The creature cannot exceed the creator.”

Again I ask, at what point did PSPCA determine they had gained the right to another’s property, enough that they were permitted to do as they pleased without the consent of either the courts or the rightful owner? Regardless of how you feel about the use of hunting dogs, petrified little foxes being used for sport or the need for animals to be spayed and neutered; there must be a universal respect for the right to property, an inviolate precept which government and its agencies must adhere to or civilized society as we know it will not be found here in America.

“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat

If we, collectively or individually, ignore the importance of an individual’s right to property we ignore his right to life as well. Have we abandoned the efforts of so many valiant individuals, efforts to safeguard God given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through constitutional protections from our government? How I yearn for days gone by…

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jaws partaking of the morning dew

Sunday morning prior to going to church I happened to look out the kitchen window and observed Jaws licking the dew that had settled on top of our little green Z.  A scripture came to mind from Deuteronomy as she cautiously enjoyed the gift from above.

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.”

I don’t want to read too much into the fact that one of our Hobo Kitties knows how to find liquid nourishment; but at the same time I acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things. May we find the ability to appreciate all the blessings which have been given, to include a multitude of paw prints on a recently washed BMW Z-3 Coupe.

More strivings within

This morning one of the hymns landed on my unsettled soul at the close of our meetings, More Holiness Give Me . I’m getting ahead of myself; time to set the stage.

These past few months one of my projects has been to create and establish Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America (FILOA), on a shoe string budget from petty cash augmented with an occasional boost from outside advertisement money and a limited membership enrollment. I’m not complaining; these things take time.

Lucy and I had dinner at a place called Hickory Hollow the other night. There was a sign on the wall, forgive my not getting the wording down verbatim; who knew I’d be using it so soon, “Please give me patience, Lord; but hurry up”. It drew a smile to my face as patience is one virtue I could surely use.

Earlier that day I’d been on a couple of locksmith jobs; always nice to put some money into the budget. While out and about I drove by a competitor’s locksmith shop and, has become a habit of late, I dropped in with the intent of inviting as many locksmiths as would listen to apply for membership in FILOA.

I got lucky and the owner was on premise, a fellow I have a great deal of respect for, an accomplished locksmith who runs his business in a professional and pleasant way. I pushed a few application forms across the counter and explained how it would be nice to have some support from local locksmiths in this new adventure.

He’d heard of my efforts at the Greater Houston Locksmith Association (GHLA) meeting; something which surprised me. I’d attempted to enlist the help of GHLA and hadn’t gotten as much as a “Sorry, we’re not interested” from those in leadership positions; not even an acknowledgement that my correspondence had been received or reviewed. I’d chalked them off as lacking in manners, that and the fact that many of these folks don’t like rocking the boat when it comes to dealing with the DPS/PSB.

He’d read some of my articles, articles which had been forwarded to GHLA regarding my intent to curb Big Government’s ever growing take over of the locksmith industry through rules and regulations issued by the DPS/PSB. My singular agenda item being to curtail absurd mandates imposed on journeymen locksmiths for continuing education credit hours; this has not been popular with those having to deal with the bureaucracy.

I’ll admit up front, my personality rubs a lot of folks raw; however, that doesn’t diminish the fact that most locksmiths have at one time or another expressed the very same thoughts. Our industry has been taken over by the State, nothing short of imposed socialism. Call me extraordinary; but I expect the leadership of my locksmith association to confront bureaucrats while standing up for the free market system which has brought us this far. I have a hard time when they check their backbone at the door and bow in subservience. America has changed and maybe I missed that particular meeting; where’s the anger, the rage against what is clearly wrong?

As I sat across the counter exchanging view points it became evident that my friendly competitor was far more in tune with diplomacy and how to work with the socialists in power at the DPS/PSB. Even so, it bothered me how easily the words fell from his lips; that we need to accept the fact that Big Government was in control and there was little if anything we as independent locksmiths could do about it.

That hymn from this morning came to mind, perhaps in a different light, but it repeated something important to my soul, “More strength to o’re come”. When you meet with resistance and your argument is valid; backing up is not the solution, turning tail and giving up isn’t an option. I guess this is one reason they haven’t invited me to bargain with the DPS/PSB, they’re afraid I might be a tad abrasive; ya’ think?

The hymn has other important lessons, lessons which challenge the ‘natural man’ within me, “More meekness in trial”; my but that’s a tough one. Then there’s the all encompassing ending for the hymn, “More, Savior, like thee”.

Being an American is tough; we’re required to humble ourselves before our Creator and stand up to those who would steal our agency all the while doing so in a civil and tempered manner. I continue to believe in the America our founders sought for; if that makes you uncomfortable then maybe it’s not my confrontational attitude; but a lack of the American Spirit which sets us apart from the rest of the world. Perhaps that tail tucked between your legs shows a lack of belief in our free market system.

I’m nearing the end of a long and satisfying locksmith career; it would be nice for the next generation of locksmiths to have as many benefits of the free market system as can be preserved. The way things are shaping up ‘free market’ will only be a foot note at the bottom of a history book page unless some of us with real blood in our veins don’t stand up and draw a line in the sand, “More strivings within”.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”. This will also appear as a feature article on Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America’s website .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Grateful for Thick Gloves

This past weekend was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church, gave a talk on Sunday about gratitude . After reminding us of the lepers who’d been healed by the Lord, only one of whom expressed gratitude, President Monson continued:

“My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

“My beloved friend President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.”’

Tonight I wish to express my gratitude for being able to catch the last female feral Hobo Kitty, Jaws; there must have been divine intervention. We’d captured Puddin’ Head earlier without much fuss and have her tucked away in the kitchen nook. We’ll transport her to the veterinarian early tomorrow to be “fixed”.

The hard one to catch was Jaws , who wouldn’t go near the traps we’d set. She escaped my clutches earlier and scramble away. I had her for half a moment; glad I was wearing thick leather gloves, as she clawed and scratched with all her might, finally squirming out of my grip. She stayed out of sight for a couple of hours.

Later this evening I tricked Jaws by offering treats; something which caused her to forget her cautions. Treats were being distributed to all the Hobo Kitties, as we do most every evening. As she got closer, I tossed a couple of treats into the washroom, making sure to bounce them off the front of the dryer so they’d make extra noise. Jaws ran past the threshold and snatched up the crunchy morsels; but she was too far inside to beat the door being closed, I had her.

I went back into the garage and retrieved the heavy leather gloves; all the while Jaws was literally bouncing off the walls trying to escape. Lucy stood at the ready as I made sure to enter the washroom without letting Jaws get past, not an easy feat. Jaws jumped atop the washing machine, dryer and against the back door, climbed the walls and let out a terrible odor as she scrambled in vain.

A couple of times I latched onto her but she put us such a fuss that I had to let her go; either that or crush her small body against the floor trying to hold on. I eventually got hold of her in such a way as to make it difficult for her hind legs to tear into anything other than the thick leather gloves. I had Lucy open the washroom door and I quickly deposited Jaws into the waiting cage. We’d won and if I didn’t express my gratitude for having the protection of a thick pair of work gloves then shame on me.

President Monson had another line which applies directly to our efforts this evening:

“When we encounter challenges and problems in our lives, it is often difficult for us to focus on our blessings. However, if we reach deep enough and look hard enough, we will be able to feel and recognize just how much we have been given.”

We’ve been able to catch all the female Hobo Kitties making sure they aren’t having more kittens. We’ve even captured two of the three male Hobo Kitties and had them fixed as well. We enjoy watching these amazing creatures; but consider it our civic duty to inhibit their endless propensity to breed.

That leaves Morris, Jaws' twin brother; and he can wait. The female Hobo Kitties were the ones who needed to be removed from the gene pool right away and that has been accomplished. I’m not sure what happened in the Philly/Reds game during all the commotion. I think somebody hit a homerun, big deal; we caught Jaws.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Jaw Dropping Experience

We have a rain barrel to catch runoff water as it cascades from off the roof. There’s a piece of protective screen to keep leaves and Hobo Kitties from falling in, no different than the stuff used to keep mosquitoes from getting past an open window.

This afternoon we spotted Jaws comfortably resting on top of the screen. It would be wise to obtain something more substantial than screen fabric on top of the water barrel as it was obvious, even Jaws as small as she is was making the fabric sag dangerously.

As much fun as it might be to watch a Hobo Kitty dunking, kind of like a carnival where they toss a ball at the target; such a fall would be fatal as there would be no way for our furry friends to get out.

Here’s a Hobo Kitty update: Cat with No Name, Lighting and Thunder were captured this past week and made the trip to the veterinarian’s office to be “fixed”, shots and ear clipped. That leaves only Jaws (pictured here), Morris (her twin brother) and Puddin’ Head to take all the Hobo Kitties out of the feral cat gene pool. We’ll try again Monday; but it’s a lot harder to trap a specific Hobo Kitty than it is to trap just any ole’ Hobo Kitty. We captured Silver Bubba several times; maybe she likes the tuna bait and is no longer scared of the trap.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Say Good Bye to God - Feds Take Over Higher Education

Most folks were unaware of the hidden perils within the recently passed Health Care Reform bill many now call “Obamacare”; remember, “We have to pass it before we know what’s in it”. One item of interest turned out to be the federal government taking over all student loans; private lending institutions will no longer be making them.

The other day there was a news article on Vision of America’s website, Feds Plan to Control All Schools with Regulations . It referenced a piece of legislation which required input; but the date of such input had long passed and must be considered as having been implemented since the article also suggested this would go into effect as early as November.

“As a practical matter, the department’s power grab carries with it an implicit invitation for various pressure groups to seek legal mandates requiring colleges and universities to implement their pet theories about curriculum, degree requirements, faculty qualifications, teaching methods, textbooks, evolution, phonics, ROTC, climate change, family policy, abortion, race, sexual orientation, economic theory, etc.”

I was able to find another article on the same subject written by John Andrews back in August which had to do with the government take over of private colleges . If you think about it, the U.S. Department of Education will now be in control of every aspect of public and private schools; a frightening thought if ever there was one.

“Accreditation, the gateway to academic and financial viability for all colleges and universities, whether tax-supported or not, would (be) made conditional upon state regulation and authorization for the first time ever.

By specifying that such regulation be “substantive” and that “adverse action” be part of the authorization process, the pending federal rule would plunge private higher education into the maelstrom of ideological agendas and interest-group politics in 50 state capitals.

Former US Senator Bill Armstrong, now president of Colorado Christian University, warned in a July 30 letter to the US Department of Education that this could mean the all-out politicization of American higher education, endangering academic freedom, due process, and First Amendment rights.”

In simple terms, higher education would be at the mercy of which ever political party was in power and held the purse strings. You might recall Obama having religious symbols covered during a recent trip to Georgetown University; a hint of things to come ?

This afternoon on the BYU television channel there was an hour program about the LDS Church in Kiev, Ukraine . It gave a brief history of the area and how important having a temple built in Kiev (pronounced Keeve as opposed to Key-Ev) was to church members in that area.

I mention this for one reason; they interviewed one fellow who’d been an atheist most of his life. He eventually found his way with the help of a couple of Mormon missionaries and became a member of the Church. He made a statement which chilled me to the bone as I recalled how our government was systematically taking over public education while at the same time making it more difficult to bring up the subject of religion, particularly the mention of God or Jesus Christ.

“In college we were taught there was no God”, translated via an interpreter in a matter of fact way as if to indicate that such was the policy throughout the communist country.

Communist government school policy teaches there is no God, a political necessity for government to take the place of God. Inalienable rights; you can forget them because if there is no God then there are no such inalienable rights. Government decides who gets to do everything at the expense of individual liberty. Isn’t that the path we are on now here in America, an intentional rewriting of history in order to blur and then eradicate any mention of our nation having been founded on Christian principles?

I found a quote by Bob Schaffer, Chairman, Colorado State Board of Education on a site called Physics Forum relating to the take over of colleges and universities by the federal government.

“The historic strength of the American higher-education system can be directly attributed to its independence from government agents and political authorities. Seizing authority from the academic private sector and moving it wholly to the government-bureaucracy sector is the quickest way to terminate the intellectual freedom that has set America apart from every other nation and has made our society the most prosperous in the history of human civilization.”

If red flags of warning are not getting your attention then you are deaf, dumb and blind; no disrespect to those without the ability to hear, speak or see. Our government will be now be able to decide who gets to attend institutions of higher education and the curriculum which will be taught. America is in trouble and come November we need to make every effort to stop the runaway train that’s headed at an ever increasing speed toward total destruction of the American way of life intended by our Creator.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Fall Garden and Hobo Kitties

Lucy and I are getting the garden prepared for fall planting; tossing the remains of the tomato plants and weeds along with turning the soil. We noticed the Hobo Kitties were watching with great concern as their playground of tall weeds was laid bare, a jungle of weeds where they would hide and pounce on each other.

This morning we found small clumps of dirt tossed from the garden onto the walkway next to the house. In the past the Hobo Kitties played hockey with river stone of various sizes; now they’d discovered it’s much easier to lift and swat dried chunks of garden dirt.

I captured Lightning a while ago as she angled her attack, the perfect posture for taking out the enemy while Puddin’ head looked on. Thunder wasn’t interested; at least he pretended to ignore his twin sister’s activities as his eyes remained closed most of the time.

Lastly, we noticed Brother’s decided to come back for a visit. It’s been nearly a year since we’ve seen him; another reason to round up the young females and get them fixed before they start playing with more than chunks of garden dirt.