Faith

This Section Also Includes Trust, Communication, Self-Improvement, Kindness, Literature and Education

              Trust     Communication     Self-Improvement     Kindness     Literature     Education

Faith:

God Is Everywhere

On God, the Gospel and Glenn Beck, Who Is Not the Answer to Building Christianity in America

A Few Brave Women Challenge Gender Apartheid in the Catholic Church

Christians Have an Incredibly Awesome and Orderly God

Florida Judge Denies an Atheist's Petition to Create a Holy Day for Those Who Deny the Existence of God in Their Life - Wow, What a Turnaround

A News Flash for Comedy Central: Mocking Jesus Christ May Be Funnier Than Hell, But Might Be Eternal As Well

There Are Times to Challenge Progressive Liberal Politicians and Governments That Want to Take God Out of Our Lives, and This Is One of Them

The United States Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, cannot seem to reconcile the fact that separation of church and state does not preclude having God in our lives. Attempting to suppress someone's religion can prove to be a daunting exercise, as this graduation ceremony demonstrates.

Making a Wrong Right - It's Not About the Media: Blaming the Messenger in the Catholic Priest Sex Abuse Crisis

The Catholic Church has taken a beating since the media exposure of its long-standing policies when handling pedophile priests. There is no excuse for the priests involved; they should have been prosecuted like anyone else in our society, but were instead protected by the church in the mistaken notion that the self-serving church might be embarrassed or lose faithful members. Now a can of worms has been opened after years of silence, and the leadership of the Catholic Church, which chose to do the wrong thing, must make it right, and once again walk the straight and narrow, just as its parishoners are asked to do. And please, do not think the Catholic pedophile priests are the only ones involved. Clergy from many other religious orders are involved as well as some Boy Scout leaders, counselors from summer day camps, and far too many schoolteachers among others.

Here Is Why You Should Go to Church, and Continue Going to Church

I have often said that going to church may not help you, but it likely will not hurt you. That may spur someone to test the water's of organized religion. Here is another, and better, reason to consider some spiritual development.

Prayer of Gratitude to My Savior and Promise Keeper - May You Have Hope in Your Life

It is altogether fitting that my first original writing of the new year should be a prayer to Jesus Christ, my Savior and promise keeper. I wrote the following prayer in honor of Jesus Christ, and wish to share it with you at this time.

You Have a Friend Who Says "I Love You and Believe in You"

All of us can be discouraged or disheartened when life gets us down. Here is someone who can always pick you up. Whatever your religious beliefs are, there is some common sense here. All of what is said by God here is uplifting and positive, therefore, would you rather have no one and nothing to turn to in times of strife, or someone of substance to turn to in times of strife? God gives you a free will to make your choice. That is because He is a compassionate God who loves you and does not want to boss you around. God made you in his image, and he believes in your goodness.

Making the Holy Bible's 23rd Psalm Even More Easy for Readers to Appreciate

Christians around the world who are serious and knowledgeable about their faith have probably heard about and read the 23rd Psalm from the Holy Bible. Here is one person's attempt at making the 23rd Psalm even easier to appreciate.

Billy Graham's Prayer for America, the Most Bountiful Country on Earth

There is a reason why Billy Graham stands alone among the great television evangelists of our era. That reason is because Billy Graham is the only nationally-recognized televangelist who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. This simple and powerful prayer for America will only touch those who listen with their heart when they hear.

How Many of You Can Say That You Are Secure in Your Final Destiny?

I was raised by my grandparents the first 5 years of my life, and everything good I ever learned was learned from my grandparents. When I wrote my first book, I dedicated it to my grandfather, Edward Louis Baker, whom I was named after. This is what I had to say about my grandfather: (He was) a self-taught man of integrity, decency and honesty who lived his life as a happy man, secure in his final destiny. If I were half as good as my grandfather, I would be twice the man that I am. The following story reminds me of my grandfather. It is with love that I share it with you here.

Imam Put On the Spot - A Mandatory Diversification Training Seminar Reveals the Muslim Beliefs

Ed's Note: Apparently this article is a true story and the author—Rick Mathes—is a well-known leader in prison ministry. I post it here because millions of American's have difficulty understanding the connection between the Muslim religion and the killing of those who do not share the beliefs of practicing Muslims.

A Prayer for Fathers

I am a Christian man who wrote this Christian prayer for Christian fathers everywhere.

The Sun and the Moon and the Stars, But What If There Were No Visible Stars?

I recently came across this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson in my reading: "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore." His statement stunned me. Seriously, imagine for a moment that we have never seen stars and then suddenly they appear like magic. Would we be fearful? Thankful? Or perhaps just terribly confused about how this could suddenly happen given our technological advances and egos to match. What does it all mean?

Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America - The First Is Abortion

Many who read the title to this article might think that the second most controversial topic in America today is whether the United States should continue its war in Iraq. Those who thought that would be, in fact, dead wrong. This article is really about facts, not about our involvement in trying to make Iraq and its people adopt a democratic society, but to revisit the place God occupies in our public institutions and in our society.

God's Greatest Gift and the "Smell of Rain"

It seems fitting that Thanksgiving weekend is a time to reflect on God's greatest gift to us, the gift of life. This article retells the story of a 24-week-old baby born prematurely who passes on a sense of presence that is unforgettable. Never doubt that there are great moments in our life which define us forever.

Saint Theresa's Prayer Urges You to Find Your Peace

Blessed Teresa (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) is not yet recognized as a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She is in the process of beatification, the second step towards possible canonization. While not yet a Saint, Blessed Teresa's prayer loses none of its powerful message.

"Is There a Santa Claus?"  Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

The following editorial by Francis P. Church was first published in The New York Sun in 1897 in response to an 8-year-old girl's letter to the editor asking if there is a Santa Claus, and is arguably the most famous editorial ever written in an American newspaper.

Forget Your New Year's Resolutions, Gain Peace Reading Mother Teresa - Get Real Results: Serve Others

Forget all of your New Year's resolutions you are tempted to make and not keep. If you want inspiration and real peace of mind as 2008 starts, read the thoughts and prayers of Blessed Teresa (Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

Where Rational Thought Leads - What Can Happen When a Cocksure Professor Makes His Case in Class

Honest people recognize that at one time or another we have all tried to make a point at the expense and embarrassment of another. The following story is making the rounds on the Internet. I have decided to repeat it here and share a few thoughts after the presentation.

You Can Learn a Lot from a Mule Trapped In a Well that Is Slowly Being Buried Alive

This story appears in Mac Anderson's book The Nature of Success. This is a great book worth your time to read.

Trust:

Here Is the Meaning of a Flag-Draped Coffin - Why Is the Flag Folded That Way?

Do-It-Yourself Christianity: A Disturbing Trend in Our Society: The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions

The lack of trust for institutions in our society may be reaching epidemic levels. A recent survey shows trust in banks and financial institutions has dropped from 35% to 28% in 40 years, major companies from 26% to 17%, the nation's press from 24% to 9%, educational institutions from 36% to 27%, and organized religion from 35% to 24%. Learn why this is happening.

Communication:

Will the "Googlization" of Everything Ultimately Make Us Information Zombies? - Just Wondering

Why I Do Not Want Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar from "The View" to Read My Website

How to Turn Off Your Facebook Friends in a Hurry

Some Clever Word Play

The College Class of 2014 Will Graduate Knowing That Email Is Way Too Slow When Communicating

Apple's iPad Takes the Communication World by Storm

Let's See How Apple's Products Look After the "Jury" Comes Back With the Evidence

Readership of Newspapers Continues to Nose Dive, But the Print Media Rate Better on the Accuracy of Their Content

Technology Run Rampant - It's "iDosing" – A New Buzz From Your Headphones and Ear Buds

Tech Guru Richard Frisch on The Rise of the Personal Appliance Era

The Most Memorable Quotes on Technology

Here Are the New Rules of Mass Media Social Networking According to Jerry Del Colliano - Are These Sites Becoming Annoying?

Another View on the Advent of Mass Media Social Networking and Its Revenue Stream

Unplug the Teens Today and Their Whole World Almost Falls Apart Instantly - Tech Toy Withdrawal Leaves Them With Anxiety

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Can Really Matter Later in Life

A Whopping 52% of Bloggers Consider Themselves Journalists - Are You Kidding Me, Mate?

As someone who has spent 20 years in the newspaper business as an investigative reporter, sports editor and managing editor for a daily newspaper, and an 87% majority owner of a print media publishing company, I found this article interesting.

Young People May Not Be Able to Relate to This Message, But Trust Me When I Say, I Can

We live in an over-communicated world, as this grandpa found out.

Point: The Printed Word Is Fading From View, So Get Over It!

Richard Frisch is a computer expert at rhftech.com who has some thoughts about the written word and its future in our society. I am interested because I am a writer, and have enjoyed and used the written word for more than 50 years to make a living.

Counterpoint: Is the Fate of the Written Word Tied to Popularity?

The advent of technology in the last decade has led to a handheld device that allows the user to make telephone calls, access the Internet, watch television, download data and music, and probably even more features I am unaware of since I do not use said device. It is not that I could not use the handheld device; it is that I choose not to use it. It is not necessary for me to use the device to experience the kind of life I want to live.

Brother Jack Slows Down Enough to Learn a Valuable Lesson During the Christmas Rush

The following personal letter was written by Brother Jack to his family, and chronicles something most of us have trouble controlling—our time and what we are doing with it as we pass through life.)

Breaking Barriers - How Advances in Technology Affect the Way We Communicate in Today's World

This guest article by Brian Steinberg appeared in Advertising Age magazine, which provides analysis and data on marketing and media, and explores the changes that may affect television as it converges with the Internet and web-connected devices in today's world. It makes me think about moving along a steam much quicker but perhaps not deeper as our method of communication expands. For anyone in sales, marketing or Internet marketing, the demographics provide valuable information; when I move this article inside my web site it will appear in both my Lessons in Life Section and in my Internet Marketing Section. I have highlighted some of the demographic information to draw more attention to the figures.

You Know You Are Living in 2009 When . . .

This was floating around the Internet. I cleaned it up and added the last 3 examples to give this bit of humor some actual substance.

This Is What Happens When You Decide to Mess with Old People - A Wake Up Call for Police

Ed's Note: This incident gets better every time I read it. Getting our government off dead center in time of need is not easy to do. Some old people have figured out how to help the program along.

Is "Black Liberation Theology" Really Helping African Americans?

Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ has sought, in his own beliefs and methods, to minister to the needs of his congregation, exhibiting a perfectly normal and natural sense about what a minister should be doing. His unexpected exposure on national television has caused umbrage with some viewers, who found his remarks to be unpatriotic, inflammatory and offensive. Are there other lessons to be learned in addition to "black liberation theology"?

All God's Creatures Have Work To Do

We can learn a lot from stories. Jesus used parables (simple stories) to help the least educated of his followers understand his message. This clever tale from Southeast Asia teaches us the difference between first-rate work and second-rate effort. Anyone disappointed in not being promoted at your place of work would do well to read and heed the message of this story.

We Live in an Over Communicated World, and Now We Can Hide Behind Our Emails

The advent of the computer and email has been a godsend to communication, but whether it is deeper or more meaningful is another question. Some people are choosing to hide behind emails rather than communicate more effectively in person or at least over the phone. If I were to coin a word to describe them, it would be "email phantoms" as you do not hear them or see them. They communicate only in an electronic world. Others no longer answer their phone when they are able to do so.

Self-Improvement:

Word Play - It's All About Neologisms. You Don't Know? Well, Read and Learn Some Clever Language

Are You Feeling Just a Little Self-Righteous?

Brain Food to Test Your Knowledge - There Are No Trick Questions

Can You Solve This Really Difficult Puzzle? - Be Accountable – No Cheating

It Is Not About the Stress in Your Life, But Rather How Long You Hold Onto It

Some Sage Advice From American Poet Maya Angelou

Don't Fall for These 6 Happiness Myths - Learn How to Overcome Them - Here's How

Here Are 4 Things You Cannot Recover

Gratitude May Well Be Your Absolute Best Trait in Life

Good, Sound Advice - Try to Not Judge Others and Change Others, and You Will Be Much More Happy

This guest article comes from Deepak Chopra, one of the most famous physicians and authors on planet Earth. Chopra is big on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality and peace.

When the Junk Piles Up - Three Questions Will Help You Decide If You Are a Harmless Pack Rat or a Compulsive Hoarder

The following guest article by Kathleen Doheny was first posted in the WebMD website, an outstanding source for medical knowledge, insight and advice.

Here Is Some Down Home Advice for Living the Rest of Your Life

Do you know what the cheapest commodity in the world is? Well, it's advice. Everyone seems to have an opinion; if you don't think so, just ask them. Here is some advice about how to live your life. Some of the advice is thoughtful, some sensible and some humorous. Live life and enjoy these suggestions.

How to Organize and Simplify Your Life for Better Emotional Health - Clear the Clutter Out of Your Life

This WebMD feature by Jennifer Nelson tells why it is a good idea to organize and simplify your life for better emotional health.

A Grandson Learns From His Grandfather Why Hate Is Self-Destructive

The following story teaches an important lesson in life about attitude. If you show me a person with a bad attitude, I will show you a person with a bad personality. If you show me a person with a good attitude, I will show you a person with a good personality. In other words, attitude drives personality. In this story, you can learn why.

The Difference Between Professional Growth and Personal Growth Is Learning How to Learn

The unknown author of this poem shows real insight in how to get on with living your life. Many people have professional growth—they get degrees or special training to improve their skills and marketability, but few achieve personal growth because it forces you to change your thought process and belief system. Personal growth is very difficult but also very rewarding; reading this article thoughtfully should demonstrate why. I have changed this poem from the one I received, and I hope I have improved it in the process.

Understanding the Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Its 9 Types of Smarts

The following guest article by Melissa Breyer is based on Dr. Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I believe every educator and teacher in America should be aware of Gardner's work, especially since our entire educational system is based on the ability to read and comprehend written material. If you cannot read and comprehend written material in our system, it will be very difficult for you to attain good grades, and maybe even a good education.

Some Sense and Sensibility

Some things just make sense. Here is an example of some things that just make sense.

45 Lessons in Life

This guest article was apparently written by Regina Brett, a 90-year-old columnist for The Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest daily newspaper, located in Cleveland.

Failures Would Be Surprised to Learn That Winners Failed Many More Times - Genius Is 99% Perspiration

Thomas Edison said it and I believe it: "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." There are more losers than winners in the game of life because losers many times are people who tried something with all their effort and failed. Because they failed rather than succeeded, they became reluctant to try again. Thomas Edison was not one of those people.

Revisiting an American Icon - What Andy Rooney Has Learned

The following quotes come from Andy Rooney, an elderly commentator who has been dispensing his words of wisdom on the CBS's "60 Minutes" program since 1978. You can learn a lot from a senior citizen, this is why I am posting some of Rooney's thoughts here. I have learned that there really are few icons in America and even fewer unforgettable people—Andy Rooney is one of them.

The Unfortunate Death of Mr. Common Sense Is, Unlike the Famous Mark Twain, Not Greatly Exaggerated

Ed's Note: To my knowledge, this obituary for the late Mr. Common Sense appeared in no newspaper around the world, but would not have been read anyway due to a lack of interest. I post it here because I am saddened by the death of Common Sense; I knew him personally and had a lot of respect for him and his message.

Readers Want to Know - So Who Is William J. H. Boetcker?

So who is William J.H. Boetcker, and why do I keep quoting him on my blog? Find out now.

You Must Answer Three Questions to Find Your True Purpose in Life

There have been times in my life when I have sat down and wondered: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is this what my life is going to be? Would any reader who HAS NOT experienced at least one of these thoughts, please stand up and announce yourself. If you stood up, you will lie about other things too. To find my reason for being, I was forced to answer in writing these three questions: Who am I? What am I meant to do here? What am I trying to do with my life?

Self-Improvement - Here Are My Personal Favorite Quotes That I Live By, Learn By and Grow By

Many people experience professional growth by earning degrees, attending seminars and training, and reading professional journals. I have had some professional growth, but I am more interested in personal growth, the kind of growth that challenges my thought process and belief system to encourage change for the better. Here are some of my personal favorite quotes that help me to accommodate change.

Imagine Being 87 Years Old and Going Back to School to Earn Your Bachelor's Degree

Imagine being 87 years old and going back to school to earn your bachelor's degree. Learn why it was important to one woman to do so, and how her inspiring story changed the lives of hundreds of students young enough to be her great-grandchildren.

The Incessant Whining of Grumble Town

There is nothing more unattractive than the sound of whining in the midst of plenty. It is not a good sign of character at any level—in individuals, families, communities, or nations as a whole. The tale deals with a whiny town, offering a cure that no one can resist.

Self-Improvement - 3 Ways to Get Ahead Faster: 1) Focus 2) Focus 3) Focus

I understand getting to the top is not so much about having the will to win—everyone wants to win—but having the will to prepare to win. Preparation is everything that will is not. Having the will to win is a want, but preparing to win is a need. What is opportunity without preparedness? Nothing but an opportunity wasted. Learn why winners prepare to succeed.

Life Is a Pattern:  Gandhi Gives Us This Insight on Life

Mahatma Gandhi gives some sage advice on how to live. It is always a good idea to read, ponder and take to heart anything that Gandhi has shared with us in his walk through life.

Kindness:

Arab Oil States on Pakistani Flood Relief: Take a Flying Dive Off of a Short Pier

Twinkies and Root Beer

This Woman Says Enough of the Whining and Complaining by Ungrateful, Legal and Illegal Mexican Immigrants Who Can't Get With It

This letter was originally submitted to the Orange County Register newspaper in California, but the newspaper refused to publish it. Apparently the Register prefers to publish letters that conveniently coincide with the political philosophy of its owners, editors, reporters and other butt-ends attached to the backside of the paper. I post it here because I can; I am not affiliated with the Orange County Register and am probably better off because of it.

Is It Time for the United States of America to Take Down the Bird Feeder That It Thought Was Really Such a Great Idea?

This guest comment is from a reader.

Airman Takes Umbrage When a Career Bureaucrat Lashes Out Against a 13% Pay Raise for Our Fighting Forces - Your Money or Your Life?

This letter struck a chord with me. I served during the Vietnam War and remember getting exactly $125 a month for putting my life on the line for my country. The Vietnam War was not a popular war as thousands of Americans demonstrated against our involvement in the conflict. In the meantime, our guys were getting killed and maimed while "well-meaning" Hollywood stars were making hay with well-orchestrated publicity stunts. I'm not sure any government can pay its soldiers enough money to get killed in battle, many times with no long-lasting, positive result for the cause. The Cindy Williams mentioned in this airman's letter was the Assistant Director for National Security in the Congressional Budget Office from 1994 to 1997 and wrote her editorial piece in 2000 in The Washington Post that criticized a proposed 13% pay increase for military members.

Lessons in Life: A Sound for a Smell

We can learn a lot from stories. The world is full of people who will try to get something they don't deserve—often, money they have not earned. Here is wisdom that recognizes the false claims of greed.

What You Do Speaks So Loudly That What You Say I Cannot Hear - An Example of Modeling

For each of us there are seminal moments in our life, events that affect us in an extraordinary way that serve us throughout our life. One occurred recently when passengers on a commercial jetliner watched through their window seats with rapt attention when a family gathered to accept the body of their son—a casualty in the Iraqi War—as his fellow U. S. Marine Corps veterans spread a United States flag over his casket before removing him from the cargo hold. The passengers had no idea the body of a dead soldier was on the same aircraft they were flying home. The following story provides another seminal moment in someone's life, a moment they will not soon forget.

The Meter on the Taxi Was Ticking, But My Heart Was Racing Faster - An Unforgettable Moment

Every now and then, when you least expect it, a simple taxicab ride can change your life. Hang on for an extraordinary adventure. If you hear his voice today, harden not your heart. If you see his presence today, harden not your heart. If you feel his presence today, harden not your heart.

All You Really Need to Know About Red Marbles, Green Peas and Kindness

Ed's Note: Among all of the useless junk, pop culture, political rants, sham offers, and stupidity floating around on the Internet, there are nuggets more precious than the finest gold. Here is one.

Life Could Really Be Such a Bummer Were It Not for the Grace of Children

This Internet contribution just might make someone's day, put a smile on your face, and touch your heart. I did a little editing on this and added some headlines.

A Story that Proves Children Can Reach Other Children in a Very Positive Way

Editor's Note: A lot of stories and jokes come in my email daily. Every now and then a story worth repeating arrives unexpectedly. Here is one, which reminds me of a famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. Enjoy this uplifting story.

Literature:

Here Are Some Things You May Not Know That Don' t Amount to a Hill of Beans

Some Clever Anagrams for My Smart, Literate Readers

A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing, Drink Deep, or Taste Not the Pierian Spring

Alexander Pope, best known for popularizing the heroic couplet, came to my attention in an English literature class at Michigan State University in the mid-1960s. I was more interested in reading Pope at the time than learning about Pope because he clearly knew how to do what I call "turn a word". That is, to write a string of words that grabs your attention and delivers a thought so profound that it cannot be ignored. Pope, a master at this art in writing, has been cited as the second most frequently quoted writer in the English language.

Isaacson's Biography of Ben Franklin Reminds Us of What We Did Not Realize

Almost everyone who has graduated from high school knows that Benjamin Franklin was a famous American. But Walter Isaacson's biography "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" chronicles an incredible journey of one of America's most influential founding fathers and arguably its greatest diplomat. I did not know that Franklin was America’s best scientist, inventor, writer, business strategist and diplomat of his time. Was Benjamin Franklin awesome? Absolutely. Isaacson tells us why.

Book Review:  It Is the Incredible Ending that Makes "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" Worth Reading

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is the story of Eddie, a simple man living a simple life as a maintenance man who has a regret and an ache in his heart. He spends his entire life berating himself because he never left the amusement park to pursue his dream of becoming an engineer. He dies while trying to save a little girl in an accident, and does not know if he saved her life or not. He awakens in Heaven and finds out the real meaning of his life. A complex but rewarding story.

"Desiderata" Is a Brilliant Piece of Writing with Simplicity and Significance of Message

"Desiderata" is a brilliant piece of writing in its simplicity and significant message. It was found in Old Saint Paul's Church in Baltimore (MD) and dated in 1692. The author is unknown. Its message is as profound today as it was 315+ years ago, and perhaps more so.

Is it Poetry, Prose or Free Verse? "Play What You Haven't Lived, It Will Help You Live Your Life"

Some writing does more than communicate a message, it may also communicate a feeling, engage us in thought, or cause us to question a long-standing belief. What is poetry to one may be prose to anohter and free verse to a third reader. Test you reaction to Jim Tyler's piece on "Play what you haven't lived, it will help you live your life".

Education:

How a Teacher, With Some Personal Growth, Can Become an Educator - When Degrees Don't Mean Diddly-Squat in the Classroom

If You Ever Wondered, Here Is the Difference Between a Teacher and an Educator

Soon, All We Will Have That Cannot Be Changed Will Be Memories

Humor - Actual Comments by Teachers on Student Report Cards in New York City's Public School System

Are Good Manners Part of a Good Education? Absolutely!  You Would Have to Be Really Insensitive to Think Otherwise

After reading this article by Peaco Todd, I wondered just how much email communication, which is voiceless and faceless, contributes to our willingness to do away with eyeball-to-eyeball contact, and the good manners it generates. People who used to have 5 close friends now have 1. All of the advances in technology are not creating good manners, and are also destroying the English language; you have only to listen to our children and grandchildren speak to know this. Peaco Todd is an affiliate professor for The Union Institute and University's online Bachelor of Arts program. She also is a syndicated cartoonist and author, and writes a football blog for ballhype.com. Find her work at www.peacotoons.com)

A 50-Year History on Why American Students Are So Poor in Learning Math

This is an attempt to show why American students do so poorly in learning math compared to students from other countries around the world. Many countries have much higher, more demanding standards of learning that generate better results We demand less and dumb down the task; it's an American educator's way of trying to improve test scores.

Economics Professor Fails an Entire Class So His Students Will Learn About Socialism

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. Find out how and why socialism caused it to happen.

In an Educational Bureaucracy, It Is Hard to Weed Out Incompetence

My level of being appalled rose dramatically the other day, fortunately, my blood pressure remained the same. The cause of this happening was an editorial in USA Today (7-17-08) titled the "Teacher Protection Racket". It seems that getting rid of teachers in the public school system is almost as difficult as quickly solving any perceived problems involving global warming. Find out why.

Herein You Will Learn the Difference Between a Teacher and an Educator

There is a huge difference between a teacher and an educator, as this article will demonstrate. Read and enjoy the real lessons in life we can learn. As Mark Twain used to say, "I never let schooling interfere with my education."

At What Point Does a Student's Rights End, and the University's Rights Begin When Awarding Degrees?

Apparently a woman was denied a teaching degree on the eve of graduation because she published her picture captioned "Drunken Priate" on her MySpace. The dean of the School of Education at Millersville University took exception to the student's photo, accusing her of promoting underage drinking. The student, who is now 27 and reportedly works as a nanny, has sued Millersville University, seeking $75,000 in damages. How will this legal action play out in court if it gets that far?

A High School Principal's Unique Approach to Education in America – In Essence, Let's Knock Off the Divisiveness and Start Learning

Why Being a Public School Teacher Is Not a Piece of Cake

An Eerie History Lesson - The Lincoln-Kennedy Coincidences

Editor's Note: The Internet has unleashed a veritable fountain of information and misinformation as well as filthy pictures, gossip, lies and tasteless commentary. Here is an interesting entry on some facts from history. I will not be researching these facts to see if they are all true, or just part of a compelling piece of writing. I highly recommend that after reading this article you click on the following link to find out the truth:

http://www.snopes.com/history/american/lincoln-kennedy.asp

Catholic Education - Why It Is Better and Less Expensive than Public Education - Part 1

Catholic education is simply better and less expensive than public education. What my children received from their public school education was an academic education. What they have received from their Catholic school education was an academic education, a religious education and a moral education. Their two experiences have been as different as daylight and darkness. Part 1 of a 4-Part Article.

Catholic Education - When It Comes to Learning Environment, You Reap What You Sow - Part 2

Catholic education is simply better and less expensive than public education. What my children received from their public school education was an academic education. What they have received from their Catholic school education was an academic education, a religious education and a moral education. Their two experiences have been as different as daylight and darkness. Part 2 of a 4-part Article.

Catholic Education - Thoughts About Children and Facts About Catholic Education Outcomes - Part 3

Catholic education is simply better and less expensive than public education. What my children received from their public school education was an academic education. What they have received from their Catholic school education was an academic education, a religious education and a moral education. Their two experiences have been as different as daylight and darkness. Part 3 of a 4-part Article.

Catholic Education - Why Throwing Money at Education Makes Very Little Sense - Part 4

Catholic education is simply better and less expensive than public education. What my children received from their public school education was an academic education. What they have received from their Catholic school education was an academic education, a religious education and a moral education. Their two experiences have been as different as daylight and darkness. Part 4 of a 4-part Article.

Saint Martin's University: A Catholic Treasure Hidden in the Pacific NW

Hidden among the evergreens in the great Pacific Northwest is Saint Martin's College, a Benedictine university in the Catholic tradition. As a resident of Lacey, Washington (the state, not DC) I drive by this hidden treasure daily. It is amazing how many great universities there are in this country that remain relatively unknown because of their size and population. Perhaps even less known are the staff members who teach the students. One with worldwide recognition is Tapas Das, who was recently honored for his work.

Faith

October 17, 2010

See It, Believe It

God Is Everywhere

He was just a little boy,
On a week's first day.
Wandering home from Bible school,
And dawdling on the way.

He scuffed his shoes into the grass;
He even found a caterpillar.
He found a fluffy milkweed pod,
And blew out all the 'filler'.

A bird's nest in a tree overhead,
So wisely placed up so high.
Was just another wonder,
That caught his eager eye.

A neighbor watched his zigzag course,
And hailed him from the lawn;
Asked him where he'd been that day
And what was going on.

'I've been to Bible School,'
He said and turned a piece of sod.
He picked up a wiggly worm replying,
'I've learned a lot about God.'

'That's a very fine way,' the neighbor said,
'for a boy to spend his time.'
'If you'll tell me where God is,
I'll give you a brand new dime.'

Quick as a flash the answer came!
Nor were his accents faint.
'I'll give you a dollar, Mister,
If you can tell me where God ain't.'

September 1, 2010

Other Voices in the Mix

On God, the Gospel and Glenn Beck, Who Is Not the Answer to Building Christianity in America

(Ed's Note: I have run a lot of positive articles on the conservative right, and far fewer positive articles on the liberal left. Here is another viewpoint that paints a less flattering view of Fox News star Glenn Beck following his recent rally at the Lincoln Memorial on jump-starting a Christian revival in America. Dr. Russell D. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration and a Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The article is Moore's; the headlines are mine.)

Dr. Russell Moore

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they've heard the gospel, right there in the nation's capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America's Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America's Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you would have told me that 10 years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it's not. It is from this week's headlines. And it is a scandal.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck is not the problem. He is an entrepreneur, he is brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market.

Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I am quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good.

What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the "Tea Party" or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It's taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined "revival" and "turning America back to God" that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we have relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads.

We have tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political "conservatism" and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Too often, and for too long, American "Christianity" has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship.

The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.

Leaders will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems: captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death.

That is why so many of our Christian superstars smile at crowds of thousands, reassuring them that they don't like to talk about sin. That is why other Christian celebrities are seen to be courageous for fighting their culture wars, while they carefully leave out the sins most likely to be endemic to the people paying the bills in their movements.

Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, racial or class resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right; anything will do.

The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Is. 8:12–20). As long as the Serpent's voice is heard, "You shall not surely die," the powers are comfortable.

This is, of course, not new. Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus.

Satan did not mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He was not worried about "revival" or "getting back to God." What Satan opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.

We used to sing that old gospel song, "I will cling to an old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown." The scandalous scene at the Lincoln Memorial indicates that many of us want to exchange it in too soon. To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all Satan needs offer is celebrity and attention.

Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him.

An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any "revival" that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a "revival" of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).

The answer to this scandal is not a retreat, as some would have it, to an allegedly apolitical isolation. Such attempts lead us right back here, in spades, to a hyper-political wasteland.

If the churches are not forming consciences, consciences will be formed by the status quo, including whatever demagogues can yell the loudest or cry the hardest. The answer is not a narrowing sectarianism, retreating further and further into our enclaves.

The answer includes local churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and disciple their congregations to know the difference between the kingdom of God and the latest political whim.

It is sad to see so many Christians confusing Mormon politics or American nationalism with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, do not get me wrong, I am not pessimistic. Jesus will build his church, and he will build it on the gospel.

Jesus does not need American Christianity to do it. Vibrant, loving, orthodox Christianity will flourish, perhaps among the poor of Haiti or the persecuted of Sudan or the outlawed of China, but it will flourish.

And there will be a new generation, in America and elsewhere, who will be ready for a gospel that is more than just Fox News at prayer.

August 15, 2010

The Pope Comes Down Like a Ton of Bricks

A Few Brave Women Challenge Gender Apartheid in the Catholic Church

(Ed's Note: Angela Bonavoglia is a journalist and author, most recently, of "Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church".)

By Angela Bonavoglia

If ever there were doubt about the relationship between the Catholic Church's spectacular failure to address the clerical child sex abuse crisis, and the church's glaring system of gender apartheid, the Vatican put it to rest in July.

Engendering a firestorm of criticism, their new canonical guidelines for handling and punishing the most "grave crimes" in church law revealed just how enraged the hierarchy is at women who dare to challenge them.

Along with the crimes of sexually molesting children and developmentally disabled adults, and of using and distributing pornography, the Vatican listed: "the attempted sacred ordination of a woman."

In other words, the two greatest problems the Catholic hierarchy faces are women and children.

In reality, this action is yet another desperate response by the Catholic hierarchy to the small but highly visible movement by Catholic women — sisters and lay women — to defy the church's ban on women's ordination.

The first woman to publicly step up to the altar was Mary Ramerman, a wife and mother, ordained a Catholic priest in 2001 in a theatre in Rochester, New York, before 3,000 jubilant supporters. A year later, seven more women were ordained, on a boat on the Danube River between Austria and Germany.

So threatening was the Danube event that one month after, Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, publicly denounced and excommunicated all seven women.

That is a sanction he has never issued — even now, in the new canonical guidelines — against a single cleric who raped or sodomized a child or a single bishop who aided and abetted such crimes.

Benedict's actions have not stemmed the tide. Nearly 100 women have been ordained or are in training to be ordained through the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement, vividly documented in Jules Hart's just-released film, Pink Smoke Over the Vatican.

The new canonical guidelines call for excommunication of the ordained woman and the priest who ordains her, which is redundant, since the Vatican did that in 2007. But it also authorizes speedy recourse to the ultimate punishment for a priest: laicization, or the end of his priesthood.

That laicization threat shows just how dangerous the hierarchy sees the passionate, public expressions of support from high-profile Catholic priests, like beloved peace activist Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School of Americas Watch.

Under threat of excommunication for co-presiding at one of the ordinations, Bourgeois remains an outspoken advocate, insisting that "there will never be justice in the Catholic Church until women can be ordained."

Ordination Ban Central to World's Oldest Patriarchy

In a world radically changed by the women's movement, the Catholic Church stands -- proudly -- as one of the last bastions of patriarchy. Led by an unapologetic boys' club, it has embraced a system of gender apartheid, deeply hostile to women's agency, power and voice.

Central to that system is the absolute ban on women's ordination. An all-male priesthood deprives women of power by locking them out of the highest levels of leadership and decision-making, including and especially on matters affecting women's most intimate lives, on maternity and sexuality.

It also sends a vivid and visible message that women cannot, must not, are utterly unequipped to represent the Divine.

Because religion remains an extremely powerful force in the world, religiously countenanced discrimination against women has wide influence.

It undergirds laws, policies and cultural practices that keep women in many places on earth silent and subservient, powerless over their reproductive health and lives, in abusive relationships, and in poverty.

The Church refuses to endorse the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, endangering the many women who are powerless to dictate the terms of their sexual relations and at highest risk for the disease.

The Church refuses to support birth control, even though spacing births helps reduce the hundreds of thousands of maternal deaths each year, while also increasing the survival of babies.

The Church condemns pregnancy termination even in the most dire circumstances, in Brazil excommunicating the mother and the doctor who ended the pregnancy of a 9-year-old raped by her stepfather.

The church fights for laws that forbid divorce, and some priests still counsel abused women to stay with their abusers, bolstered by the church's setting Elizabeth Canori Mora, a woman who was physically and psychologically abused by her errant husband, on the track to sainthood for her "absolute fidelity" to the sacrament of marriage.

Furthermore, the church's entrenched discrimination has bred an attitude of condescension, even contempt, towards women. Surely that made it much easier for the all-male hierarchy to ignore the mothers who came to them, begging for action against the priests who molested their children.

It also led the hierarchy to dismiss the sexual molestation of girls after puberty and the sexual exploitation of adult women by repeatedly and unconscionably blaming them for their own abuse.

Catholic Women Lead Charge Against the Status Quo

As a result of the church's sordid history, unfolding nearly daily as more and more cases of child abuse and cover-up emerge, and of the church's escalating actions aimed at controlling women -- and not just Catholic women -- the all-male hierarchy finds itself in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.

Their power is being roundly challenged, and Catholic women are leading the charge.

Exhibit A is the Vatican's announcement last year that it would be launching two investigations into the lives of American sisters — one on the "quality" of their religious lives, the other on "the soundness of doctrine held and taught" by the sisters on contentious issues like homosexuality, celibacy and the ban on women's ordination.

In defense of the sisters, the Catholic and mainstream press have denounced those investigations, and rightly so. But this action by the Vatican confirms that, while the sisters have gone about their critical work of sheltering the homeless and feeding the hungry, some have also posed a tremendous challenge to the power elite.

Despite the implicit threat of punishment the investigations carry, the sisters have not retreated.

One very public face-off took place during the closing days of the Obama Administration's fight for health reform. The U.S. bishops had been playing a central role in reviewing the legislative drafts, demanding that no federal funds pay for abortions.

In an action that could have killed health care reform altogether, they rejected a Senate version, even though it did not authorize federal funds for abortions and established onerous red tape if women wanted to buy insurance on their own.

Led By an Unapologetic Boys’ Club

The bishops did not have the last word. Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, made a statement of support for health care reform, followed days later by a letter, released to the media, to all members of Congress from NETWORK (the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby).

Signed by leaders of Catholic religious orders representing 90 percent of the 59,000 U.S. women religious, the sisters in that letter attacked the "false claim" that federal funds would support elective abortions, and hailed the new funding in the bill for pregnant women, which they wrote represented "a REAL pro-life stance."

Their support was widely regarded as helping to push the bill over the finish line.

In response, the U.S. bishops became downright apoplectic. Ultra-conservative Archbishop Raymond Burke said, "in defying Rome and the Church's teaching on life" the women represented "an absurdity of the most tragic kind."

In a whiny public statement, the U.S. Bishops complained that their position had been "misrepresented, misunderstood and misused," their "right to speak questioned," and "even" their leadership role subject to "criticism."

The sisters remained undeterred (though NETWORK did remove the letter to Congress from its website). Keehan graciously accepted a pen President Obama used to sign the reform bill as well as his videotaped gratitude to the Catholic Health Association, and to her personally, for her "extraordinary leadership …in advancing our national discussion."

Another face-off is ongoing and has been widely publicized. It concerns Sister Margaret McBride, a hospital executive and member of St. Joseph's Hospital Ethics Committee in Phoenix, Arizona.

She was excommunicated, relieved of her position, and condemned for approving the termination of the life-threatening, 11-week pregnancy of a 27-year-old mother of four.

Without a scintilla of empathy or sympathy for the critically ill woman, Bishop Thomas Olmsted said: "The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances." The correct moral action: Let the mother and the fetus die.

Hospital vice-president Suzanne Pfister defended the hospital's action, on behalf of the hospital, its parent company Catholic Healthcare West, and McBride's entire religious order, the Sisters of Mercy. The response — from the public and the Catholic press — has been a groundswell of condemnation for Olmsted's actions and vociferous support for Sister Margaret.

Catholic Women Advocating for Survivors and Gays

In terms of the sex abuse crisis, Catholic women have been leading advocates for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Had there been no Barbara Blaine, there would be no Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

She founded SNAP in 1989, after spending nearly a decade seeking justice from the archdiocese of Toledo for the sexual molestation she suffered as a girl at the hands of a local parish priest.

Clinging Desperately to Sexist Man-Made Laws

Today, SNAP is the largest and most powerful voice for clergy sex abuse survivors nationwide; it is also a major watchdog of the Vatican and the bishops' actions regarding survivors. SNAP members -- half of them, and over half of the organization's leaders, women -- hold support groups all over the country, stage protests outside churches and bishops' conferences, and fight for legislative relief for victims, like extending statutes of limitations for reporting child sex crimes.

The Vatican's new canonical rules for handling priest child molesters extend its own statute of limitations -- beyond which it absolves itself of taking any action against an offending priest.

It also allows for quicker laicization, but they fail to require what victims' advocates really want: action against colluding bishops, an end to the bishops' lobbying against extending civil statutes of limitations and required reporting to civil authorities.

"This tiny, timid and flawed Vatican move redoubles our commitment to win secular reforms that will truly protect kids and upholds our long-standing policy of gently, but firmly, nudging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call law enforcement -- not church officials – when they see or suspect child sex crimes or cover-ups," says Joelle Casteix, Western Regional Director of SNAP.

Catholic women have taken on the most contentious issues on the reform agenda.

Sister Jeannine Gramick spent three decades building a pioneering ministry to gays and lesbians, despite relentless and unsuccessful efforts by then Cardinal Ratzinger to silence her and ban her work.

Among the creative contributions of Frances Kissling, retired president of Catholics for Choice, were a worldwide Condoms4Life campaign and the See Change Campaign—the first coordinated challenge to the Holy See's singular status among the world's religions as a UN Non-Member State Permanent Observer.

Watching Power Fracture

As a result of these and other challenges from women (such as bringing a feminist viewpoint to theology, making up the vast majority of those in lay Catholic ministry), something very important is happening: the power of the all-male hierarchy, of the Vatican and the Bishops Conferences, is beginning to fracture.

Other Catholic voices, women's voices, are being heeded – in the church and in the public square.

A Voice Inside to Drown Out Those Messages

What will come of all of this remains to be seen. Many feel the Catholic Church is on its way to becoming a much smaller, ultra-orthodox fundamentalist institution. Indeed, the church's opening its arms to disaffected Anglicans who also virulently oppose women's ordination does not bode well for change.

But another scenario would see the alternative voices getting louder, the reform movements growing larger, and more and more women priests leading more and more small faith communities until the parallel church on the ground becomes so strong that the medieval institution has to change. Or the parallel church bypasses it entirely, and thrives.

For now, I see the church continuing to "bleed women," as Sister Joan Chittister once put it. Those who remain will be subject to a hierarchy that is clinging desperately to sexist man-made laws and sexist interpretations of tradition and Scripture, then passing their sexist messages onto young Catholic girls.

A cradle Catholic, it took me a long time to develop a voice inside that was loud enough to drown out those messages. It saddens me that many Catholic girls will spend years of their lives doing the same. But that is the inevitable consequence of institutionalized diminishment and discrimination. And that is not ending in the Catholic Church any time soon.

August  8, 2010

See For Yourself

Christians Have an Incredibly Awesome and Orderly God

(Ed's Note: This article came via email and I was impressed, which is not surprising because I am a believer in a Christian God. I certainly hope the facts shared here are correct. I have edited this article to improve it.)

For example:
-- the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days;
-- those of the canary in 14 days;
-- those of the barnyard hen in 21 days;
-- the eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days;
-- those of the mallard in 35 days;
-- the eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days.

Notice that they are all divisible by 7, the number of days in a week!

The lives of each of you may be ordered by the Lord in a beautiful way for His glory, if you will only entrust Him with your life. If you try to regulate your own life, it will only be a mess and a failure. Trust in the Lord in all things, and lean not unto your own understanding (from Proverbs in the Bible).

God's wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant.. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other quadruped is so made. God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs. For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.

The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!

God's wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains.

-- Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind.
-- Each orange has an even number of segments.
-- Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.
-- Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains.
-- Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number.

The waves of the sea roll in on shore 26 to the minute in all kinds of weather.

All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, and the Lord specified 30 fold, 60 fold, and a 100 fold -- all even numbers.

God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day. It was recorded that Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!

Thus the Lord in His wonderful grace can arrange the life that is entrusted to His care in such a way that it will carry out His purposes and plans, and will be fragrant with His presence.

Only the God-directed life is truly successful. Only the life given over to the care of the Lord is fulfilled.

June 27. 2010

Wow, What a Turnaround

Florida Judge Denies an Atheist's Petition to Create a Holy Day for Those Who Deny the Existence of God in Their Life

In Florida, an atheist created a case against the annual Easter and Passover Holy Days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews, and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, "Case dismissed!"

The lawyer immediately stood up, objecting to the ruling, saying, "Your honor, How can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays."

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, "But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant."

The lawyer said, "Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists. "

The judge said, "The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that, if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned."

(Ed's Note: In God we trust, all others need not apply. Atheists do not recognize God, and are not going anywhere, so they do not need a holiday. Let them save themselves.)

May 20, 2010

Here's A News Flash for Comedy Central:

Mocking Jesus Christ May Be Funnier Than Hell, But Might Be Eternal As Well

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

Comedy Central has decided to lower the bar even further by stepping up efforts to mock and defame Christians, according to Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center.

Bozell said that Comedy Central has recently announced that they are developing a cartoon series about Jesus Christ called "JC." According to Comedy Central, Jesus will move to New York City to "escape his father's enormous shadow" and to live a normal life.

The network says that God will be portrayed in the show as an "apathetic" father, obsessed with playing video games.

Just two weeks ago, Comedy Central censored South Park's depiction of the prophet Muhammad after intense Muslim protest, yet they have a long history of ridiculing Jesus Christ and Christians in the very same show.

This directly mirrors the way the liberal media have treated Islam and Christianity for years, asserts Bozell. While going out of their way to respect Islam, they relentlessly attack and defame Christianity and the 80% of Americans who call themselves Christians.

My question to the creators and producers of Comedy Central would be this: Is mocking Jesus Christ a good idea?

Perhaps it matters not a whit if you are an atheist, a non-believer, or like risking your chances if Jesus Christ does exist.

My life experience tells me that mocking God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is a very bad idea. I could hardly wish Comedy Central well for doing so.

Issuing asbestos suits for those who participate in this mockery might be an idea of some back-up foresight and insurance, but I doubt it is going to help much in the long run.

If discretion is the better part of valor, then avoiding mockery in this case may be life-saving.

I believe it was William Shakespeare in 1596 who had Falstaff in Henry IV, Part One, saying: "The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life." (Well spoken, Willie, I could not have said it better myself.)

May 6, 2010

There Are Times to Challenge Progressive Liberal Politicians and Governments That Want to Take God Out of Our Lives, and This Is One of Them

(Ed's Note: The United States Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, cannot seem to reconcile the fact that separation of church and state does not preclude having God in our lives. Attempting to suppress someone's religion can prove to be a daunting exercise, as this graduation ceremony demonstrates.)

They walked in tandem, each of the 92 students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With their rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt.

Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and Moms freely brushed away tears.

This class would NOT pray during the commencements, not by choice, but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it.

The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families.

The speeches were nice, but they were routine until the final speech received a standing ovation.

A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened.

All 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly sneezed!

The student on stage simply looked at the audience and said, "God Bless You" and then walked off the stage.

The audience exploded into applause. This graduating class had found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future with or without the court's approval.

(Ed's Note: Despite their innate intelligence, lengthy education and expansive knowledge of the law, some U. S. Supreme Court Justices are what I call "marble-heads"—they are all round and shiny but do not have the good sense God gave a healthy piss ant.)

April 14, 2010

Making a Wrong Right

It's Not About the Media: Blaming the Messenger in the Catholic Priest Sex Abuse Crisis

(Ed's Note: The Catholic Church has taken a beating since the media exposure of its long-standing policies when handling pedophile priests. There is no excuse for the priests involved; they should have been prosecuted like anyone else in our society, but were instead protected by the church in the mistaken notion that the self-serving church might be embarrassed or lose faithful members. Now a can of worms has been opened after years of silence, and the leadership of the Catholic Church, which chose to do the wrong thing, must make it right, and once again walk the straight and narrow, just as its parishoners are asked to do. And please, do not think the Catholic pedophile priests are the only ones involved. Clergy from many other religious orders are involved as well as some Boy Scout leaders, counselors from summer day camps, and far too many schoolteachers among others.)

By Rev. James Martin, S.J. (Society of Jesus—the Jesuits)

More so than in 2002, when the clerical sex abuse crisis exploded into American newspapers, some Church leaders and prominent Catholics have accused the media of unjustly targeting the Church, specifically the Pope.The reporting on the story is, they say, inaccurate, unfair and motivated by anti-Catholicism.

Let me speak to that question as a Catholic priest, as someone who works at a weekly magazine and who also occasionally writes for the secular media.

There has always been a lingering degree of anti-Catholicism in some quarters of the media, for a variety of reasons, some with roots deep in American history, which I've written about at length in America magazine.

The media also gets things dead wrong at times, even in factual reporting -- especially when reporters new to the religion beat don't have a clue about the way that the Catholic Church functions.

There are also op-ed writers and columnists who seem never to have a good word to say about the Catholic Church, even in the best of times.

Snotty comments from pundits who know zero about celibacy are useless; misinformed asides from journalists who know little about the Vatican are unhelpful; and mean-spirited stereotypes from otherwise thoughtful writers about all priests, all sisters, all bishops, all popes and all Catholics are as harmful, and as defamatory, as any other stereotypes. To that end, I agree with a few of the critiques about the media.

But to blame the messenger for this current wave of stories about sexual abuse is to miss the point. For instance, a friend told me that at the Chrism Mass, a diocesan-wide liturgy a few days before Easter, her local bishop told the congregation to cancel their subscriptions to The New York Times, which he called "the enemy."

Besides the fact that a Mass is not the time to critique your local newspaper, this overlooks a critical dynamic about the service the media has provided for a Church that needed to address a grave problem but wasn't doing enough.

To wit: without the coverage by The Boston Globe in 2002 of the sexual abuse by priests, the Catholic Church in United States would not have confronted the issue on a nationwide basis and instituted mandatory guidelines.

Why do I say this? Because years before, in 1985, a smaller but highly influential, left-leaning Catholic newspaper, The National Catholic Reporter, reported and editorialized on abuse cases involving a notorious Louisiana priest.

What was the response? In 1992, after many closed-door meetings with experts in the intervening years, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a series of guidelines on dealing with abuse. These, however, were not binding on the bishops, but voluntary.

(Ed Bagley's comment about the above decision: This was stupid followed by more stupid, like church leadership leading the deaf and the blind to again cover its hindside.)

But this was nothing along the lines of what happened as a result of the dogged reporting from the Globe that began in earnest in early 2002. That is, there was nothing like the extraordinary meeting of American bishops, convened in Dallas in 2002 that produced the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," which set forth the nationwide "zero tolerance" policy for abusers.

Prior to that, there was no mandatory institution of "safe practices" for every single Church institution (parishes, schools, social-service centers, etc.), no mandatory training programs for all priests, deacons, and Church employees across the country. And there was no creation of the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. None of that happened after the 1985 case. But it did after 2002.

What helped to move the Church from "voluntary" to "mandatory" was the full-bore coverage by the mainstream media -- harsh most of the time, wrong sometimes. The Church, at least until that point, seemed unable to confront fully the widespread nature of the abuse, the systemic structures that caused it, and the seriousness of the damage done to children and their families by these crimes.

The Catholic Church in this country has come far from where it was in 2002. Its extensive training programs and draconian guidelines can be taken as models for all institutions that deal with children and young people. That doesn't mean that local churches elsewhere won't still need to address abuse (as we're seeing in Ireland and Germany), nor that the U.S. Church has "finished" addressing these crimes.

As long as the possibility for abuse exists, or one victim is still suffering from past abuses, we will not be "finished" with this problem.

Nor is it surprising that the media are focused on the news from Ireland and Germany, or even on the Vatican's response. It is not simply the question of sexual abuse, which occurs in every institution that deals with children (and occurs most often in families).

Rather, as Paul Moses, a Catholic journalist who has worked in the secular press, pointed out on Commonweal's blog, it is the media's questioning of whether past cover-ups have occurred. Covering cover-ups is what the media does, no matter the institution. "When a scandal of this proportion is uncovered," Moses writes, "journalists will naturally want to see how far it goes -- the basis for the latest round of stories."

Every single bishop I know wants to end sexual abuse. They have met with victims whose lives have been destroyed, and they are justly horrified. But for every bishop of my acquaintance, there are as many religion reporters of my acquaintance called "anti-Catholic" by those very same clerics.

Reporters work diligently to get the story right, particularly on such an explosive topic, sometimes after being unable to get Church officials even to return their phone calls. Sometimes I wish that I could bring both parties together to discuss how the media deals with the Church and the Church with the media.

There's another reason not to blame the media: it probably doesn't work in the long run. Blaming the media in these situations, for better or worse, comes off as an excuse. It makes people wonder why so much time is devoted to finding holes in a story when so little was expended in decades past to prevent abuse. You never know what digging that the media might be doing that will make your objections seem irrelevant; and, as the saying goes, "Don't pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel."

For every objection you raise the media will have a team of reporters to respond. Object and correct, but don't blame. More fundamentally, targeting the media ignores the way the media helped the Catholic Church in this country.

In 1992, Cardinal Bernard Law, archbishop of Boston, said "By all means we call down the power of God on the media, particularly the Globe." It was a public excoriation for the paper's relentless criticisms of the Church's handling of abuse cases.

In a sense, the power of God did come down on The Boston Globe. The Globe became an unwitting instrument through which the Church was forced to face -- for the first time on a nationwide, mandatory, system-wide basis -- the crimes of its priests and the sins of the bishops who had shuttled them from parish to parish in decades past.

So I thank God for the secular media, which, in its own biased and sometimes inaccurate way, forced the Church in this country to change for the better.

(Ed's Note: Sadly, the action of a few pedophile priests disrespects God's direction for our lives and the selfless, faithful work of thousands of other priests who for nearly 2,000 years have helped God's people at their point of need in their time of need. Let not the misdoing of a few overshadow the wonderful work of God's faithful, and not only the members of the religious orders--both priests and nuns--but the support of parishioners as well.)

January 26, 2010 2nd Article

Here Is Why You Should Go to Church, and Continue Going to Church

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

(Ed's Note: I have often said that going to church may not help you, but it likely will not hurt you. That may spur someone to test the water's of organized religion. Here is another, and better, reason to consider some spiritual development.)

A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.

"I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:

"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

When you are down, God is up to something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical and our spiritual nourishment!

January 4, 2010

May You Have Hope in Your Life

Prayer of Gratitude to Jesus Christ, My Savior and Promise Keeper

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

It is altogether fitting that my first original writing of the new year should be a prayer to Jesus Christ, my Savior and promise keeper.

I am a converted Roman Catholic, and believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is both my Savior and redeemer. I am a Christian. You may be a follower of Judaism, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Confucianism among others. It does not matter to me.

I am just happy that you recognize a power greater than yourself. Whatever your choice of religious belief, become a better member of your faith.

Despite the current problems of the Roman Catholic Church—in particular its egregious, unconscionable handling of those relatively few pedophile priests who have abandoned Christ's teachings—the life and message of Jesus Christ remains unchanged, and His church on Earth endures after more than 2,000 years.

The Catholic religion, like all religions, has had its good and bad keepers of the faith. There have been popes who have been no better than common criminals, and other popes who have been great examples of keepers of the faith, including Pope John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli), and Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), two of the most popular popes in the history of the Papacy.

Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), the current reigning Pope, is the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

I wrote the following prayer in honor of Jesus Christ, and wish to share it with you at this time.

Prayer of Gratitude to Jesus Christ, My Savior and Promise Keeper

All praise and glory to you, Heavenly Father, and to your son Jesus, the living Son of you, my Father in Heaven, a living God who sees all, hears all, and knows all.

Thank you, Father, for sending Jesus to me so I might see Him and learn His loving ways. I understand that my faith does not literally require me to see Jesus in the flesh to receive and benefit from His message of unconditional love, understanding, acceptance and redemption. Only you, Father God, would have the patience to send your Son among us when faith would have sufficed. Let those who have not seen yet believe share in your promise of redemption.

I thank you Father for reaching out to me with your words of compassion and comfort. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart to your message of service to others. Let not my heart be troubled by the cares of the world, so that I can be of service to you with no misgivings.

Guide me and direct me in all that I do and say so that your glory may be manifest in my service to others. Help me to appreciate that my life has little purpose without service to others, and grant to me an understanding heart and wise judgment so that I can better recognize those who are troubled and in need.

Let kindness and genuine concern be my greeting to all of your children. Let a gentle smile be my first words spoken. Without you Lord I am but an empty vessel waiting to be filled. With you, let me bring living water to those thirsty for your Word. Speak through me Lord so that your message remains clear, concise, and convincing.

Let my life be one of gratitude for the opportunity to serve with a willing and cheerful heart. I understand that while service to others will enrich my life, it is only through your grace that I will be saved, and be with you in Heaven.

I ask all of this, Father God, in the name of your son Jesus, my Savior and promise keeper.

November 13, 2009 - 2nd Article

You Have a Friend Who Says "I Love You and Believe in You"

(Ed's Note: All of us can be discouraged or disheartened when life gets us down. Here is someone who can always pick you up. Whatever your religious beliefs are, there is some common sense here. All of what is said by God here is uplifting and positive, therefore, would you rather have no one and nothing to turn to in times of strife, or someone of substance to turn to in times of strife? God gives you a free will to make your choice. That is because He is a compassionate God who loves you and does not want to boss you around. God made you in his image, and he believes in your goodness.)

You say "It's impossible."

God says "All things are possible."

(Luke 18:27)

You say "I'm too tired."

God says "I will give you rest."

(Matthew 11:28-30)

You say "Nobody really loves me."

God says "I love you."

(John 3:1 6 and John 3:34)

You say "I can't go on."

God says "My grace is sufficient."

(II Corinthians 12:9 and Psalm 91:15)

You say "I can't figure things out."

God says "I will direct your steps."

(Proverbs 3:5- 6)

You say "I can't do it."

God says "You can do all things."

( Philippians 4:13)

You say "I'm not able."

God says "I am able."

(II Corinthians 9:8)

You say "It's not worth it."

God says "It will be worth it."

(Romans 8:28 )

You say "I can't forgive myself."

God says "I forgive you."

(I John 1:9 and Romans 8:1)

You say "I can't manage."

God says "I will supply all your needs."

(Philippians 4:19)

You say "I'm afraid."

God says "I have not given you a spirit of fear."

(II Timothy 1:7)

You say "I'm always worried and frustrated."

God says "Cast all your cares on me."

(I Peter 5:7)

You say "I'm not smart enough."

God says "I give you wisdom."

(I Corinthians 1:30)

You say "I feel all alone."

God says "I will never leave you or forsake you."

(Hebrews 13:5)

November 7, 2009 - 2nd Article

Guest Article:

Making the Holy Bible's 23rd Psalm Even More Easy for Readers to Appreciate

(Ed's Note: Christians around the world who are serious and knowledgeable about their faith have probably heard about and read the 23rd Psalm from the Holy Bible. Here is one person's attempt at making the 23rd Psalm even easier to appreciate.)

The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd = That's Relationship

I shall not want = That's Supply

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures = That's Rest

He leadeth me beside the still waters = That's Refreshment

He restoreth my soul = That's Healing

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness = That's Guidance

For his name's sake = That's Purpose

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death = That's Testing

I will fear no evil = That's Protection

For thou art with me = That's Faithfulness

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me = That's Discipline

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies = That's Hope

Thou annointest my head with oil = That's Consecration

My cup runneth over = That's Abundance

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life = That's Blessing

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord = That's Security

Forever = That's Eternity

July 16, 2009

Billy Graham's Prayer for America, the Most Bountiful Country on Earth

(Ed's Note: There is a reason why Billy Graham stands alone among the great television evangelists of our era. That reason is because Billy Graham is the only nationally-recognized televangelist who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. This simple and powerful prayer for America will only touch those who listen with their heart when they hear.)

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness, and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Amen.

July 1, 2009

How Many of You Can Say That You Are Secure in Your Final Destiny?

(Ed's Note: I was raised by my grandparents the first 5 years of my life, and everything good I ever learned was learned from my grandparents. When I wrote my first book, I dedicated it to my grandfather, Edward Louis Baker, whom I was named after. This is what I had to say about my grandfather: (He was) a self-taught man of integrity, decency and honesty who lived his life as a happy man, secure in his final destiny. If I were half as good as my grandfather, I would be twice the man that I am. The following story reminds me of my grandfather. It is with love that I share it with you here.)

Billy Graham is now 90 years old with Parkinson's disease. In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.

Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson's disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, "We do not expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you." So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, "I am reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century.

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He could not find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It was not there, so he looked in his briefcase but could not find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still could not find it.

The conductor said, "Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I am sure you bought a ticket. Do not worry about it." Einstein nodded appreciatively.

The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, do not worry, I know who you are. No problem. You do not need a ticket. I am sure you bought one."

Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I do not know is where I am going.'"

Having said that Billy Graham continued, "See the suit I am wearing? It is a brand new suit. My wife, my children, and my grandchildren are telling me I have gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion.

"You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I will be buried. But when you hear I am dead, I do not want you to immediately remember the suit I am wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am, I also know where I am going."

March 22, 2009

Imam Put On the Spot

A Mandatory Diversification Training Seminar Reveals the Muslim Beliefs

(Ed's Note: Apparently this article is a true story and the author—Rick Mathes—is a well-known leader in prison ministry. I post it here because millions of American's have difficulty understanding the connection between the Muslim religion and the killing of those who do not share the beliefs of practicing Muslims.)

The man who walks with God always gets to his destination. If you have a pulse you have a purpose.

The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion per capita in the United States, especially in the minority races!

Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their beliefs.

I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say.

The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.

When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked:

"Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"

There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, "Non-believers!"

I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can have a place in heaven. Is that correct?"

The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

He sheepishly replied, "Yes."

I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering all Protestants to do the same in order to guarantee them a place in heaven!"

The Imam was speechless.

I continued, "I also have problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me."

Let me ask you a question:

"Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and He wants you to be there with me?"

You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.

Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the Diversification Training Seminar were not happy with Rick's way of dealing with the Islamic Imam, and exposing the truth about the Muslims beliefs.

For more interesting reading, go to my Lessons in Life section and click the link on Faith.

July 26, 2008

A Prayer for Fathers

(Editor's Note: I am a Christian man who wrote this Christian prayer for Christian fathers everywhere.)

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

The Lord is patient and gracious,
slow to anger, and full of mercy.

He has not dealt with us after our sins,
nor held us accountable for our transgressions.

For as high as the heavens are above the Earth,
so great is his mercy toward those sinners who fear him.

Those who do not fear the Lord are fools.

A fool in scripture is not one who is stupid,
but rather one who lives his or her life as if there is no God,
and no personal savior in Jesus Christ.

The Lord deals kindly with those who fear Him, and honor Him.

Let us then give to others what Jesus has given to us:
unconditional love, acceptance and honor in our day.

For the Lord knows our days are numbered.

Our days are like flowers in the field,
that grow and blossom in their beauty and grace,
then remain destined to die and fade away.

For the flowers in the field, there will be no tomorrow.
be mindful then, to keep the Lord's covenant,
fear Him, and honor Him all the days of your life.

The Lord ahs prepared His throne in heaven,
his kingdom has rule over all, forever and always,
and He has prepared a place for us in heaven.

We give thanks to you, our risen Lord, for your life-giving sacrifice,
your unconditional love, your acceptance, and your continual mercy.

In Jesus name, amen.

February 11, 2007

Emerson's Fertile Mind:

The Sun and the Moon and the Stars, But What If There Were No Visible Stars?

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

I recently came across this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson in my reading:

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore."

No wonder Ralph was a philosopher as well as a great writer.

His statement stunned me. Probably because there are atheists and scientists around whom believe that planet Earth was some accidental cosmic happening a very long time ago.

They would not agree with folks like me who believe that a greater compassionate and giving power caused me to be here, and that my life does have purpose and meaning even if others do not agree.

Seriously, imagine for a moment that we have never seen stars and then suddenly they appear like magic. Would we be fearful? Thankful? Or perhaps just terribly confused about how this could suddenly happen given our technological advances and egos to match.

I tend to think that God has nothing to prove, and that the atheists and scientists have a lot to prove.

Some folks think I am in the same gene pool as monkeys and many other species that have drawn breath on planet Earth. I seriously doubt this and can find no true science to support the idea.

There are examples regarding this matter which demonstrate that science disproves science more than it confirms it.

For example, despite decades of worshipping at the alter of Darwinism (the theory of evolution), Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe released his book titled Darwin's Black Box in 1996 that used discoveries in microbiology to refute Darwinism on Darwin's own terms.

Unfortunately, Darwin knew nothing in his day of DNA and the vastly complex systems studied by molecular biologists, such as the information processing, storage and retrieval in DNA.

Francis Crick, winner of the Nobel Prize for his co-discovery of DNA, also realized that the spontaneous evolution of life could not be reconciled with the facts. He said, "The probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd."

Despite the evidence to the contrary, I feel little need to argue whatever point Darwinism tries to make. If I did evolve from a monkey I would hardly claim the monkey as a family member. As I see it, a greater power created us both, not in a fit of evolutionary brilliance, but separately at the same time.

While I am not certain about a lot of things (I have lived too long and understand too little; I knew a whole lot more when I was much younger), I am certain that the monkey did not create me and I certainly did not create the monkey. Darwin created neither of us, and made a lot of false assumptions that pale in the light of today's science.

But let us address the more interesting thought of Emerson's imagination.

If I had never seen a star in the sky and suddenly the sky was filled with brightly shining stars, I would be joyful and overwhelmed, thinking what a phenomenal gift has arrived. I get the same feeling watching the waves crash against the shoreline at the ocean, and watching the sunlight dance through the leaves of trees in the forest.

I wonder if a tree thinks it evolved from a monkey. I bet the tree would be thankful to know it was part of a greater creation than the monkey.

A mind once stretched by a new idea moves beyond its old constraints, never returning to its former, limited dimensions. It is called "imagination" and Ralph Waldo had some. Probably a lot, compared to some heavy thinkers like Darwin.

As a pre-teenager growing up in Michigan I remember how settled and peaceful it felt on a hot summer night to lay down on the lush grass and look up at the sky and watch the stars with my friends. We would alternately talk and look up at the stars in silence. Sometimes 5 minutes of silence.

It was as if a greater power could have been looking down, pleased that his creation was so pleasing to such an important part of his creation. Yes, I felt valued and safe. It was as if I knew that someday my star would shine brightly.

I find no peace in reading Darwin's theory. I find much peace in just gazing at the heavens, which pose no questions to trouble my gentle soul. I find more order in my "universe" than in Darwin's theories. Darwin can find solace in his theories; I will look to the stars for mine.

October 19, 2007

The First Is Abortion:

Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Many who read the title to this article might think that the second most controversial topic in America today is whether the United States should continue its war in Iraq. Those who thought that would be, in fact, dead wrong.

This article is really about facts, not about our involvement in trying to make Iraq and its people adopt a democratic society, but to revisit the place God occupies in our public institutions and in our society.

Oliver "Buzz" Thomas explored this topic recently in USA Today (10-15-07), America's largest daily circulation newspaper. Thomas is a minister, lawyer and author of 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job).

First off, we have the oldest written constitution in the world, however, the United States Constitution was not the first constitution written in this country, that distinction belongs to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, written in 1639.

The U. S. Constitution was written in 1787, was ratified and went into effect in March 1789, exactly 150 years after Connecticut's constitution.

Very few of our citizens could tell you when our Constitution came into being, and even fewer could tell you much about God's place in our U. S. Constitution.

Thomas says many Americans do not know what our Constitution says about our first freedom: religious freedom.

Ask most Americans what the Constitution says about God, and their answer may surprise you.

"One nation under God?" No, that is in our Pledge of Allegiance.

"Endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights?" No, that is in our Declaration of Independence.

A recent survey by the First Amendment Center asserted that 55% of Americans believe the our Constitution establishes us as a "Christian nation" and while nearly all Americans say freedom of religion is important, only 56% of the survey respondents think it should apply to all religious groups.

The plain truth is that the U. S. Constitution says nothing about God. There is not a single reference to "God" in our Constitution.

The only reference to religion in our Constitution appears in Article VI which says "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Most colonies did have religious qualifications for public office at the time. The Carolinas, for example, even went so far as to require that all elected officials be Protestant. If you were a practicing Christian, but not a Protestant, you apparently did not qualify for public office in the Carolinas.

Only 2 years later, in 1791, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution—popularly known as the Bill of Rights—were ratified by the first session of the First Congress.

The first of those amendments said in part that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

Oliver Thomas suggests that Congress likely did so because of concern about "the corrupting influence the institutions of church and state have on each other when either becomes too cozy." By cozy, one might assume powerful and dominant.

The idea is that our government is to remain neutral and no citizen should be advantaged or disadvantaged because of his or her religious faith.

The separation of church and state does not mean the separation of God and government or of religion and politics. Get that straight.

The First Amendment limits only the power of government, not the power of the people or the power of any church.

Churchgoers can establish and practice their own religion. They can also promote political issues and candidates, but they do so at the cost of potentially losing their IRS tax-exempt status since there is no tax deduction for partisan causes, only charitable causes.

People can practice freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government to redress (remedy or set right) grievances.

This means power to the church and power to the people but no power to government to establish or use religion as a whipping tool to do its bidding.

The plain truth is that the Bill of Rights says nothing about God. There is not a single reference to "God" in our Bill of Rights.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the framers of our Constitution for limiting (as least on paper) the power of our government, and the politicians and bureaucrats who run it.

There is, of course, no limit to the lying, cheating, stealing, self-centeredness and self-righteousness of the politicians and bureaucrats who pursue their own agenda for their own personal gain at our expense while serving under the guise of serving us.

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), the American journalist and literary and social critic said, "You can never underestimate the stupidity of the American people."

It would be even more difficult to underestimate the lying, cheating, stealing and lack of morality practiced by our prominent elected politicians and appointed bureaucrats.

For the record, there are references to "God" in our Declaration of Independence and also in our Pledge of Allegiance, but not in our United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

One might conclude that given these facts, the majority of our U. S. Supreme Court justices see no problem in kicking God out of our public schools because public schools are government property of a legal entity.

This action does not preclude us from keeping God in our churches and homes.

Surf my Lessons in Life Archive to Read "What Women Should Know About Men – Four Realities in a Man's World" and "Who Has Had the Greatest Influence on Your Life and Why?"

November 24, 2007

God's Greatest Gift and the "Smell of Rain"

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

It seems fitting that Thanksgiving weekend is a time to reflect on God's greatest gift to us, the gift of life.

The following story has been circulating around the Internet and seems worthy of repeating here:

A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy from surgery. Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.

That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver the couple's new daughter, Dana Lu Blessing.

At 12 inches and 1 pound 9 ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs.

"I don't think she's going to make it," he said, as kindly as he could. "There's only a 10% chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one."

Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived.

She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.

"No! No!" was all Diana could say.

She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter and become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, their dream was slipping away as her daughter fought for her life.

But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Dana's underdeveloped nervous system was essentially "raw", the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they could not even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love.

All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.

There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Dana turned 2 months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time.

And two months later, though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero, Dana went home form the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.

Five years later, Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life.

She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. She was simply everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.

One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Dana was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing.

As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, "Do you smell that?"

Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, "Yes, it smells like rain."

Dana closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?"

Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet. It smells like rain."

Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on his chest."

Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Dana happily hopped down to play with the other children.

Before the rains came, her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along.

During those long days and nights of the first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.

Ed's Note: Never doubt for a moment that God is in our lives. If you hear His voice today, harden not your heart. May God bless you and your family this weekend.

Read my Lessons in Life articles on "Become a Parent and Witness a Miracle", "The Real Heroes of Our Time Are Those Who Serve Others" and "Who Has Had the Greatest Influence on Your Life and Why?".

December 20, 2007

A Prayer for Peace Within

Blessed Teresa's Special Prayer for Your Well Being

(Editor's Note: Blessed Teresa (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) is not yet recognized as a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She is in the process of beatification, the second step towards possible canonization. While not yet a Saint, Blessed Teresa's prayer loses none of its powerful message.)

                                            Blessed Teresa's Prayer

May today there by peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

December 31, 2007

"Is There a Santa Claus?"

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

(Editor's Note: The following editorial by Francis P. Church was first published in The New York Sun in 1897 in response to an 8-year-old girl's letter to the editor, and is arguably the most famous editorial ever written in an American newspaper. This incredible piece of writing happened when newspapers were the primary means of communication. In 1897 there was no mass communication by radio, television, computers, cell phones and the associated technical goodies we have today. Readers actually believed and trusted in newspapers. Now we do not believe and trust in newspapers anymore than we do in politicians.)

Here is how Francis P. Church responded to Virginia O'Hanlon's letter:

"We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except (in what) they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal (supernal means "of exceptional quality or extent") beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.  No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

About the Exchange

Francis P. Church’s editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in The New York Sun in 1897, more than a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, 'If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,' and that settled the matter.

'Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,’ I said to father.

He said, ‘Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does'."

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer.

Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply that was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia University, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator.

Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

Note: See The People’s Almanac, pp. 1358.

Editor's Note: Read my editorial comments on key issues, including "Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America – The First Is Abortion", "So Why Should I Subsidize Any Banks Because of Their Greed and Incompetence?", "A Disturbing Trend in Our Society – The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions" and "Washington's Hottest Political Issue Pits PI Attorneys and the Insurance Industry".

January 1, 2008

Get Real Results: Serve Others

Forget Your New Year's Resolutions, Gain Peace Reading Mother Teresa

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Forget all of your New Year's resolutions you are tempted to make and not keep. If you want inspiration and real peace of mind as 2008 starts, read the thoughts and prayers of Blessed Teresa.

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work.

At age 12 she committed herself to a religious life. She left home at 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary and never saw her mother or sister again. She took her solemn vows in 1937, while serving as a teacher at a Loreto convent school in Calcutta.

In 1946, she felt God calling her to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them in the slums of Calcutta. From this humble start she founded the Missionaries of Charity and by 1996 she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries.

Born in 1910, she died in 1997 at the age of 87. At the time of her death, her Missionaries of Charity had more than 4,000 sisters, an associated brotherhood of 300 members, and more than 100,000 volunteers operating 610 missions in 123 countries. From serving just a single poor person when others would not, Mother Teresa has influenced millions of lives around the world.

Blessed Teresa (Mother Teresa of Calcutta) is not yet recognized as a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She is in the process of beatification, the second step towards possible canonization. While not yet a Saint, Blessed Teresa's thoughts and prayers bring a powerful message to God's faithful.

Here are some thoughts and prayers by Blessed Teresa with generous spacing in between for emphasis:

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

"There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God.
I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls - 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers."

"There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:
Jesus is my God,
Jesus is my Spouse,
Jesus is my Life,
Jesus is my only Love,
Jesus is my All in All;
Jesus is my Everything."

Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.

"I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’ I begged her: You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him. It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand."

If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.

There is a terrible hunger for love.
We all experience that in our lives - the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family.
Find them.
Love them.

Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well.

"When once a chairman of a multinational company came to see me, to offer me a property in Bombay, he first asked: ‘Mother, how do you manage your budget?" I asked him who had sent him here. He replied: ‘I felt an urge inside me.’ I said: other people like you come to see me and say the same. It was clear God sent you, Mr. A, as He sends Mr. X, Mrs. Y, Miss Z, and they provide the material means we need for our work. The grace of God is what moved you. You are my budget. God sees to our needs, as Jesus promised. I accepted the property he gave and named it Asha Dan (Gift of Hope).

"Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength."

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.

I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor. It was an order. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.

You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.

The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.

A clean heart is a free heart. A free heart can love Christ with an undivided love in chastity, convinced that nothing and nobody will separate it from his love. Purity, chastity, and virginity created a special beauty in Mary that attracted God’s attention. He showed his great love for the world by giving Jesus to her.

Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.

A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves.
The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.

"Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet especially your family. Be holy – let us pray."

I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Ask yourself “How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?” Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery.

Blessed Teresa's Prayer

May today there by peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

February 13, 2008

Where Rational Thought Leads

What Can Happen When a Cocksure Professor Makes His Case in Class

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

(Editor's Note: Honest people recognize that at one time or another we have all tried to make a point at the expense and embarrassment of another. The following story makes this point. I have decided to repeat it here and share a few thoughts after the presentation.)

The science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students, "Let me explain the problem science has with religion." The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

"You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"

"Yes sir," the student says.

"So you believe in God?"

"Absolutely."

"Is God good?"

"Sure! God's good."

"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"

"Yes."

"Are you good or evil?"

"The Bible says I'm evil."

The professor grins knowingly. "Aha! The Bible!" He considers for a moment.

"Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?"

"Yes sir, I would."

"So you're good...!"

"I wouldn't say that."

"But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't."

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. "He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?"

The student remains silent.

"No, you can't, can you?" the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

"Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?"

"Er...yes," the student says.

"Is Satan good?"

The student doesn't hesitate on this one. "No."

"Then where does Satan come from?"

The student falters. "From God"

"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?"

"Yes, sir."

"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?"

"Yes."

"So who created evil?" The professor continued, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

Again, the student has no answer.

"Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?"

The student squirms on his feet. "Yes"

"So who created them?"

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. "Who created them?" There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. "Tell me," he continues onto another student. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"

The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor, I do."

The old man stops pacing. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?"

"No sir. I've never seen Him."

"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"

"No, sir, I have not."

"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."

"Yet you still believe in him?"

"Yes."

"According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?"

"Nothing," the student replies. "I only have my faith."

"Yes, faith," the professor repeats. "And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith."

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. "Professor, is there such thing as heat?"

"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."

"And is there such a thing as cold?"

"Yes, son, there's cold too."

"No sir, there isn't."

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet.

The student begins to explain. "You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can reach up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees."

"Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold; Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

"What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?"

"Yes," the professor replies without hesitation "What is night if it isn't darkness?"

"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word."

"In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?"

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. "So what point are you making, young man?"

"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed."

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. "Flawed? Can you explain how?"

"You are working on the premise of duality," the student explains. "You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought."

"It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it."

"Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?"

"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do."

"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

"Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?"

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

"To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean."

The student looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?" The class breaks out into laughter.

"Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain; with all due respect, sir."

"So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?"

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. "I guess you'll have to take them on faith."

"Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life," the student continues. "Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?"

Now uncertain, the professor responds, "Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light"

The professor sat down.

(Ed's Thoughts: I have long believed that you cannot prove or disprove the existence of God by rational thought. I believe that spiritual development (belief in any religion) requires a leap of faith that rational thought cannot support. I personally believe in God and consider myself a blessed person for doing so. I smiled when I read this story. And, incidentally, who says that today's young students are all stupid? This student was one sharp cookie, grounded in his belief by faith, and confident is his clear thinking ability.)


Read my 3-Part Series On Relationships, including "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know: A Man's 5 Basic Jobs – Part 1", "Secrets Men Don' Want Women to Know: A Man's 5 Basic Tendencies – Part 2" and "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know: 4 Realities in a Man's World – Part 3". Click on my Lessons in Life link. Then click on Relationships.

March 31, 2008

Lessons in Life:

You Can Learn a Lot from a Mule Trapped In a Well that Is Slowly Being Buried Alive

(Editor's Note: The following story appears in Mac Anderson's book The Nature of Success. This is a great book worth your time to read.)

A farmer owned an old mule that fell into a well. After assessing the situation, the farmer reluctantly concluded that neither the mule nor the well was worth saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and enlisted them to help bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially the old mule was frantic, but as the dirt kept hitting his back, something happened. It dawned on the mule that every time a shovel load landed on his back, he should shake it off and step up!

This he did, blow after blow. Shake it off and step up . . . shake it off and step up. No matter how painful the blows or how distressing the situation, the old mule fought panic and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up.

Before long, the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly through the mouth of the well. What seemed like it would bury him, actually helped him . . . all because of how he handled his adversity.

(Editor's Note: The moral to this story as I see it is: Perseverance can save your butt when your butt needs saving.)

Read my 3-Part Series On Relationships, including "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know: A Man's 5 Basic Jobs – Part 1", "Secrets Men Don' Want Women to Know: A Man's 5 Basic Tendencies – Part 2" and "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know: 4 Realities in a Man's World – Part 3". Click on my Lessons in Life link to find this series.

Trust:

May 7, 2010

Why Is It Folded That Way?

Here Is the Meaning of a Flag-Draped Coffin

(Ed's Note: There can be no greater sacrifice than putting your life on the line for your country, or the ultimate sacrifice of giving your life in service to your country. Let their be no doubt about what a flag-draped coffin means, and why the American flag is folded in a particular way.)

Here is how to understand the flag that draped upon a coffin, and then surrendered to so many widows and widowers.

Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?

Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!

The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God , indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christian’s eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit .

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations motto, "In God We Trust".

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.

There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you'll see flags folded and now you will know why.

Share this with the children you love and all others who love what is referred to, the symbol of " Liberty and Freedom."

November 3, 2007

Do-It-Yourself Christianity

A Disturbing Trend in Our Society: The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

The lack of trust for institutions in our society may be reaching epidemic levels.

This slow, eroding lack of trust has become a widespread occurrence of an undesirable phenomenon that is ripping at the very fabric of our social beliefs and habits. A recent article in USA Today (10-29-07) by Henry Brinton, a Presbyterian pastor in Virginia, addresses this social shift in attitudes.

Brinton is "convinced that the Christian faith is becoming more like Wikipedia and less like Encyclopedia Britannica. Instead of time-tested religious insights, people are now accepting 'what others are saying'," a reference to the fact that any one of 5.5 million registered users of Wikipedia online can edit the religious information.

In a real sense, sophisticated revisionists can re-write history on Wikipedia.

One national leader in an Islamic Republic is preaching that the Holocaust never happened, when in fact the Jews were among more than 6 million persecuted groups that were mass murdered under the German Nazi regime from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.

A survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has recorded a drop in trust among social institutions since the 1970s. To wit:

Trust in banks and financial institutions dropped from 35% to 28%, major companies from 26% to 17%, the nation's press from 24% to 9%, educational institutions from 36% to 27%, and organized religion from 35% to 24%.

Apparently some mainline denominational religions that grew in the 1940s and 1950s and began to lose membership in the 1960s are today one-third smaller than they were 40 years ago.

They have been replaced by a rise in non-denominational community congregations that attempt to serve the needs of their worshippers more directly with contemporary praise music in worship and a variety of programs aimed at the needs of children, youths, college students, singles, couples, women and men.

I have attended some worship services at these New Age non-denominational community congregations and can attest to the trend.

As a converted Roman Catholic, I have noticed that many of the New Age churches are not organized in the sense of having and following a liturgical year.

A Catholic Mass is predictable anywhere in the world. There will be the same readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospel that strictly follow the liturgical year. The priest will give a homily (sermon for the Protestants) based on the liturgical readings of the week.

Most New Age congregations will hear the pastor preach on whatever strikes his or her fancy at the moment. If more money is needed for a new building or a service program, the message will be tailored to meet the perceived need of the moment.

Many of these pastors are charismatic and great speakers who easily attract a following. If the pastor were to change congregations or religions, I get the impression that many in the congregation would follow the pastor and his message.

The Catholic Church traces its origins to the Apostles and has 2,000 years of history, liturgy and tradition to follow. The unfortunate rise and treatment of pedophile priests has done a grave disservice to the religious community and its followers, and in itself is enough to erode trust in organized religion.

It is not mere conversation to say, "If you cannot trust a Catholic priest, who can you trust?" The fact that there are religious pedophiles in every Christian denomination does not excuse any instance of this abhorrent behavior.

Banks and financial institutions have no real need to fall all over themselves in a fit of righteousness. Some of these lenders have raised lying, cheating and stealing to an art form under the guise of legality.

Clearly the law favors subterfuge in financial matters, and lenders use this cover as an excuse to line their pockets at the borrower's expense. Bankers think nothing of looking you straight in the eye and telling you what a good deal they are giving you, and encourage you to worship at their feet for the privilege of their services.

What is there to trust when borrowing money from banks and financial institutions? Not much. They advertise about giving customer service and customer care but offer little evidence of doing so when put to the test.

Major corporations (big businesses) are losing the trust of consumers as well. Many score record quarterly performances on the backs of workers and then announce another round of layoffs to improve their profitability, leaving technological advances and the workers that are left to pick up the slack.

Chief executive officers who really have not improved the company get asked to leave and walk out the door with a $210 million going away compensation package. This all looks pretty unfair, not to mention stupid, to workers.

The term "corporate fat cats" represents an injustice to many workers. If the company board of directors had lost enough trust in the CEO to fire him, why pay him $210 million in compensation to leave?

Another private-equity firm paid its CEO $400 million for his services last year, more than a million dollars a day in income for every day of the year.

What can I say about the nation's press? Only that it does not even publish the news anymore. Virtually every article is now "personal journalism" with the author's views about news events, and the rest of newspapers and newscasts merely print or broadcast propaganda from their news sources.

Everyone from Hollywood publicists to politicians to the White House officials puts their own spin on all news events. There is no news reporting, only their reaction to news events based upon whatever pap they are peddling.

Politicians and presidential candidates are so caught up in carving out their own legacy and future prosperity they would not recognize or acknowledge the truth unless it served their own misguided purposes.

If you have not taken the time to notice, being a politician at the state or national level is one of the best and most lucrative jobs in America today.

There is so much carping and contentious infighting that nobody is responsible for anything that happens to the electorate.

There is also so much lying, cheating, stealing and immoral behavior going on that should anything good come from our elected officials it would be more by accident than design.

Politicians view it as a happy accident. They are too self-centered and self-absorbed in their own wonderfulness to worry about actually doing something rather than continually protecting their own power base and perceived influence.

I believe the majority of Americans are so disgusted with politicians today that they do not really give a crap about what they represent because they know that they are not representing them no matter which party they claim. Count me in that group.

Even the hallowed ivy halls of our educational institutions are taking a beating.

Too many tenured professors at many major colleges are not only practicing their liberal beliefs, they are preaching their permissive brand of liberalism. They stifle the exchange of ideas while promoting personal self-expression with little effort to recognize and teach basic, fundamental American values, including truth, integrity, responsibility, accountability and common sense.

Perhaps the only thing more important to them than actually teaching these basic, respected values is their own ego trip of self-righteousness. Many of these educated idiots believe that they can look at any major issue, decide what is right for everyone based solely on their intelligence, and then develop a social engineering program to make it happen.

Far too many of our college students are so brilliant when they graduate that they know exactly what is right for them and everyone else, what entitlements they are owed based on their continued breathing, and are quick to point out everything that is wrong everywhere.

The fact that they are not nearly as educated and literate as they think they are is just an aside. Like young people from every generation, you cannot share anything with them because they already know everything and can contribute little to the advancement of society until they grow up and embrace responsibility, accountability and integrity.

When you have tenured research professors working on health-related studies that are earning two, three and four times their salary from the same companies for whom they are doing the research, you realize there is no integrity left on campus as conflict and corruption has reached the highest levels of so-called leadership. No wonder there is little trust left in our educational institutions.

We look to our traditional churches to teach positive values, however, these churches are also losing trust among their followers.

It would appear that many of the leaders of these institutions will, like common prostitutes, sell themselves to the highest bidder. For many of these leaders, money will trump self-respect, integrity will give way to notoriety, and truth will become irrelevant to purpose.

If I sound like a social critic, I am. For any half-wit who will pay attention I am giving a clarion call to action. The good news is that you can rise above the current circumstances.

Those who would create distrust may sully the environment, but they cannot force you to follow their errant ways. You can live and act differently, and I advise you to do so.

Editor's Note: Read my articles on "Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America – This First Is Abortion", "So Why Should I Subsidize Any Banks Because of Their Greed and Incompetence?" and "Self-Improvement – Here Are My Personal Favorite Quotes That I Live By, Learn By and Grow By".

Communication:

April 10, 2011

Just Wondering

Will the "Googlization" of Everything Ultimately Make Us Information Zombies?

Review by A. C. Grayling

Our enthusiastic embrace of the electronic resources that give us information, communication and community, all at lightning speed and with press-button ease, has changed the world.

It changes governments too, as the contemporary Middle East shows. The rising curve of developments in this electronic wizardry has grown breathtakingly steeper in the last two decades, showing no sign of leveling out.

At the forefront of some of these vertiginous developments is Google, a name so iconic that it has become a verb. If you google "Google" you get more than 6 billion results. Yahoo gets 4 billion, Microsoft's Bing 250 million, Lycos 25 million, Altavista 16 million. You get the point: Google is way out ahead.

The question is: is the googlization of everything a uniformly good thing, or should we worry?

The answer, according to media expert and professor Siva Vaidhyanathan in his The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry): Yes, we should worry.

His chief reason is that Google is an advertising business, which uses its information services as a way of getting saleable information in return. It offers free access to information so that it can profile the people searching for that information, and then auction space to advertisers targeted at their profiles.

It is an ingenious business model, but, among other consequences, it raises for searchers the question whether Google's ranking of information is an accurate reflection of the information's reliability and utility.

As Vaidhyanathan points out, Google has convinced us that we should trust it implicitly; most people rarely click past the first 3 results it offers.

"This means," he writes, "that Google, the most flexible yet powerful information filter we use regularly, could come to exercise inordinate influence over our decisions and values."

Control knowledge, and you control people: Google would not be the first to realize the significance of that truth.

Moreover, the localization of advertising means that Google does not pass on information about the world at large but what interests locally, the kind nearby advertisers would prefer us to have so that we can shop with them. Thus Google becomes, says Vaidhyanathan, "more about shopping than learning."

Vaidhyanathan was prompted to examine "googlization" -- having our information processed through Google's systems and algorithms before we get it -- because
when Google began scanning millions of books in 2004 to create a vast digitized library, he saw two problems: that the aim of Google Books and its eBooks platform was in fact not to create a library but a bookstore, and secondly that it was interested in accumulating a vast body of text that it could mine for the development of search techniques.

Vaidhyanathan admires the innovations promised by the latter aim, but what he is not so sure about is the increased hold it gives Google over how its users view the world.

The most recent development in lawsuits initiated by publishers and authors against Google's books digitization plan was a decision this month (March 2011) by a court in New York, applauded by the U.S. Department of Justice, that the settlement Google offered to publishers and authors "would," in the words of judge Denny Chin, "give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission."

It would also gain Google the profits from "orphan works" whose copyright holders cannot be located. For now, anyway, the Googlization of our access to books has been hampered. But although this issue is what got Vaidhyanathan started, it is not his only concern.

Note first that Vaidhyanathan has not written a diatribe against Google itself, a company he admires for many reasons despite also having questions about it.

Instead the book is about "googlization," that is, the development of reliance by internet users on major search service providers -- Google being the most major -- who, because of their control of the process, have an influence over information that could be distorting or even, potentially and if it fell into the wrong hands, malign.

Vaidhyanathan's anxieties are being exacerbated by the increasing pressure Google is itself feeling from competitors in certain sectors, principally Facebook and Apple, with consumer attention switching to mobile devices which are locked -- down to their providers.

This is very different from the radically open Web model that Google took its start from. Every minute you spend on iPhone away from the Web means that Google can't harvest the information you are giving away about yourself on it.

Facebook competes directly with Google for advertising and is making huge strides. Of course, Google is changing in response: going mobile, and at the same time, in reaction to Facebook, seeking to be more current and relevant by privileging recent information over older information -- and thus again distorting the value of the information it ranks.

Note the concern here: that because information runs through the decision algorithms of the Google system we cannot regard its handling of information as ideal or even merely neutral, but only as a product of the algorithm's workings.

And because it is profiling our identities and interests, our prejudices and desires, it is tailoring information to us, just as it is auctioning space to advertisers with something specific to sell us because of our profiles.

One big thing someone could say on Google's behalf is that it stepped into a void and provided an invaluable service to the world. There was no really effective way of finding information on the Internet until Google created it, remedying a market failure and reaping the just reward for doing so.

Should we not clap our hands instead of wringing them?

Vaidhyanathan's reply is that Google is filling too much of a gap, a gap that state institutions should fill. It would, he says -- and surely rightly -- be a fabulous investment for the world and its future if governments got together and financed the building of a global digital library open to all.

Only imagine if there were a truly public, independent, and neutral search engine for all information, ranking it purely on reliability and usefulness. That would be a resource for mankind worthy of the name.

Google has used its "sterling reputation" to argue that it can provide this and associated services faster, cheaper, and better than public bodies can.

Vaidhyanathan disagrees, arguing that Google's pre-eminence in the market has undermined what should be genuinely public responsibilities to provide public goods. This is not, Vaidhyanathan is careful to insist, to say that Google is evil -- far from it; but it is also not the White Knight of popular imagination either.

It is a business, seeking a profit, driven by the profit motive; it is not a public service institution. The perception of it as an altruistic and benevolent organization was created by its users, not itself.

The motto "Don't be evil" has never been part of its public face, Vaidhyanathan says; it was we the users who wished it to succeed because we applauded those aspects of it that were genuinely applaudable -- the commitment to openness, fraternity, little or no control or censorship, open code, the democratic process of lots of people building amazing facilities for the Web.

Google opposed the world domination of Microsoft, which never pretended to be anything but a for-profit institution, opposing open-source and code-making anarchy. Google was the good guy, and it succeeded: David contested Goliath, and became another Goliath by doing so.

Google both spread and benefitted from goodwill in this way. The company's founders say that they began with principles and are not going to violate them. But, says Vaidhyanathan, the sheer scope of Google and its proliferation into many new areas has produced frictions and contradictions.

He gives the example of the run on United Airlines stock that resulted from a trifling error, the absence of metadata on a web page giving the date of a report. Someone saw on Google an old report that UA was seeking bankruptcy protection, and thought it was new information.

An alert flashed out, holders of UA stock began selling it as quickly as possible, and the share price tanked. So did that of other airlines, because (typically for the stock markets) panic selling spread like an infection before the mistake was detected.

When Bloomberg issued a correction the stock prices rallied, but not before a lot of money was lost. Trust in Google, Vaidhyanathan says, prevented people from checking the facts before the damage was done -- and the example is illustrative of the potential for damage.

One of the most interesting points Vaidhyanathan makes concerns the levels of responsibility that Google bears for the content it offers us, from lowest to highest across three types of function: scanning and linking, hosting and serving, and scanning and serving.

To understand this, remember that there is content that not everyone wishes to have accessed, such as pornography, copyright infringements, and privacy invasions. If Google keeps such content available beyond a certain tolerance limit, it opens itself to backlash or even prosecution.

Its lowest level of responsibility relates to content that other people create, which it simply copies and posts for its own index. It neither solicits nor prohibits it, neither buys nor profits from it. It makes no editorial input, it just indexes it and makes it available. Google is not responsible for what other people put on the net.

The next level of Google's responsibility is for what it "hosts and serves." Here Google makes other people's content available on its facilities, obviously enough benefitting from the profiles it harvests and the advertising space it can accordingly sell on its facilities.

In "scanning and serving" Google has the greatest responsibility. It digitizes things that were not hitherto digitized, and makes them available.

Examples are Google Maps, Google Street View, and Google Books. Google here makes the decision about what is worthwhile to scan and serve. People can complain -- for example, about what appears on Google's street view service – but it can take weeks for content to be removed, and by then it will probably have been copied and disseminated many times over.

As Vaidhyanathan puts it, this involves a bad assumption on Google's part to the effect that everything is up for grabs and can only be challenged and removed post facto. This wrongly sets the default at the lowest possible standard.

This naturally leads Vaidhyanathan to ask whether there should be regulation. On this he is agnostic, pointing out that there is already some degree of regulation in the form of copyright laws, but that matters would be improved if we did not have to trust that a company like Google will not abuse its position, but will allow users to search in a fair and uncorrupted way.

Now, Google does not (though many think it does otherwise) take money to put links high in web searches. Search providers might one day not be so ethical. But in making editorial decisions about what is worthwhile, and in now claiming to prefer "high quality sites" over "low quality sites" (are they always able to tell which is which?) they are taking sole responsibility for value decisions of considerable moment.

A problem here is that Google's search algorithms are a commercial secret, so the chance of a transparent audit of how they make those decisions is slim. What standards does Google use? If it only follows my previously manifested desires, it is not going to give me the information that would most be of use to me.

I am with Vaidhyanathan in wishing to see a Human Knowledge Project set up, a 50-year goal to create a global digital library and information resource that every child anywhere in the world can tap into.

The technology exists, but not the political will, says Vaidhyanathan, even though the advantage of a non-profit humanitarian resource has so much going for it that it is surprising that such a project is not already well under way.

Perhaps the lack of political will has something to do with how many governments do not want their people to know too much or be able to find out too much.

Here is a chicken and egg situation: do we have to wait for the world to be civilized enough for a Human Knowledge Project to become feasible, or would it only become civilized enough if such a Project existed?

I suspect the latter: and therefore think that all those who are interested should put their shoulders to the wheel and create it. That would be a true search for knowledge, and the most liberating thing we could ever do.

October 15, 2010

What Would Be the Purpose?

Why I Do Not Want Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar from "The View" to Read My Website

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

Apparently Bill O'Reilly was a guest on "The View" Thursday and was controversial enough to cause both Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar to get up and walk off the set on national television.

The View is an Emmy-winning American morning talk and variety show created and produced by Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie. The co-hosts are Barbara Walters (the guiding hand and moderator), Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd.

Bill O'Reilly is a top-rated political commentator and host of "The O'Reilly Factor" on the Fox News Channel.

O'Reilly is hardly a flaming, left-wing liberal ideologue, and The View co-hosts – with the exception of Elisabeth Hasselbeck – are hardly flaming, right-wing ideologues. So a reasonable person would expect some difference of opinion in their views.

That is what makes Thursday's flare-up all the more interesting, and disappointing. The topic of discussion was the Islamic mosque to be built in New York City very near to the 9-11 Twin Towers attack by radical Islamic terrorists that killed 3,000 Americans.

I will not give a blow-by-blow account of their discussion here because it is all over the news and on YouTube and associated outlets big time. Despite the ugliness of it all, it is and will be an absolute ratings booster for all concerned.

I am frankly surprised that Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar left the set because they could not stand to listen to Bill O'Reilly's opinions on Muslim extremists who are terrorists that use their Islamic religion as an excuse to kill Americans in cold blooded murder.

Among the Hollywood celebrities who have an opinion on everything known to man, I have long considered Whoopi Goldberg to be a lot more sensible and rational than many of them.

Likewise, I once took the time to tune into The Joy Behar Show where she is the moderator of her own talk show. I was surprised and delighted to see that she seemed much more in control of herself on her own program than as a co-host on The View. Admittedly, I only watched her show once, but I was impressed with how she handled herself.

That is why I was stunned to see the replay of what happened on Thursday.

Thanks goodness for Barbara Walters. She is the guiding light. Walters has arguably interviewed more statesmen and celebrity stars than any other journalist in history.

After the walk-off, Walters immediately said, "You have just seen what should not happen. We should be able to have discussions without . . . screaming and walking off stage." Amen, Barbara, amen.

Here is the crux of the matter: When someone gets you so upset you start doing irrational and stupid things, you are allowing them to control you. That is hardly a good thing, and in this case, Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar are looking mighty foolish and immature.

These are grown women, mind you, who cannot tolerate hearing anyone state a controversial opinion without condemning them and stomping off the set in a fit of rage like a couple of immature, petulant young girls.

Good grief, what next? They probably will just label Bill O'Reilly a racist and Republican pig, which will, of course, prove nothing and accomplish nothing.

The insult of their action is not really directed at Bill O'Reilly so much as every American voter who will be filling out a ballot for our national election day on November 2.

The message is clear: The viewers and voters who watch television and encounter controversial opinions are so damn stupid they could not possibly put what is being said into perspective. They obviously need the help of Whoopi Goldberg's and Joy Behar's actions to convince them they (Whoopi and Joy) are right in their opinions, and whoever disagrees with them is wrong.

I do not think so, Whoopi and Joy. A lot of Americans can listen respectfully to the controversial opinions of others, and make up their own mind about how they think and feel on an issue. They do not need your help and histrionics to do so.

Which is why I do not want you reading my website (Ed Bagley's Articles).

I post a lot of articles on my website that have a wide range of opinions on a variety of topics. I want readers who can sensibly listen and thoughtfully consider what someone has to say without going ballistic. Apparently that does not include Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar.

October 9, 2010

How to Turn Off Your Facebook Friends in a Hurry

(Ed's Note: Ever wonder why you are losing friends on Facebook? Here is one reason why by Dave McGinn from the London-based European Bureau of the Globe and Mail in Canada.)

By Dave McGinn

If you're thinking about telling all your pals on Facebook about the dust in your house or how gosh darn cute your chihuahua is, don't. At least, not if you want to keep them as friends.

A new study by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver Business School has discovered the top reasons for Facebook unfriending.

After surveying more than 1,500 Facebook users on Twitter, Christopher Sibona, a PhD student in the computer science and information systems program, found that frequent, trivial posts were the No. 1 reason for unfriending on the site.

"The 100th post about your favorite band is no longer interesting," Sibona said in a release.

The second most popular reason for losing friends on the site was posting about polarizing issues such as politics and religion.

Making inappropriate posts, such as crude comments, was the third most common reason.

The study will be published in January by the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

"Perhaps this will help us develop a theory of the entire cycle of friending and unfriending," Sibona said in the release.

First part of the theory: Keep your lame, rude thoughts to yourself.

September 17, 2010

Can You Do Better?

Some Clever Word Play

(Ed's Note: The following is dedicated to lexophiles (lovers of words).

1. A bicycle cannot stand alone; it is two tired.

2. A will is a dead giveaway.

3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

4. A backward poet writes inverse.

5. In a democracy it is your vote that counts; in feudalism, it is your Count that votes.

6. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

7. If you do not pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I will show you A-flat miner.

10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

11. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

12. A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulting in Linoleum Blownapart.

13. You are stuck with your debt if you cannot budge it.

14. Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under.

15. He broke into song because he could not find the key.

16. A calendar's days are numbered.

17. A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine.

18. A boiled egg is hard to beat.

19. He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

20. A plateau is a high form of flattery.

21. A short fortuneteller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.

22. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

23. When you have seen one shopping center you have seen a mall.

24. If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.

25. When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she would dye.

26. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

27. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

28. Acupuncture: a jab well done.

NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large
number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

When we are in the Flow of Life . . .

Doors open easily when we knock,
We know intuitively what our next right step is,
The people we need appear and they offer help gladly.
Coincidences abound.
Opportunity arrives out of the blue.
Life conspires to help us.

August 24, 2010

What Your Children Missed

The College Class of 2014 Will Graduate Knowing That Email Is Way Too Slow When Communicating

For students entering college this fall, e-mail is too slow, phones have never had cords and the computers they played with as kids are now in museums.

The Class of 2014 thinks of Clint Eastwood more as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry urging punks to "go ahead, make my day." Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.

These are among the 75 items on this year's Beloit College Mindset List. The compilation, released recently, is assembled each year by two officials at this private school of about 1,400 students in Beloit (WI).

The list is meant to remind teachers that cultural references familiar to them might draw blank stares from college freshmen born mostly in 1992.

Of course, it can also have the unintended consequence of making people feel old.

Remember when Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Dan Quayle or Rodney King were in the news? These kids don't.

Ever worry about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.? During these students' lives, Russians and Americans have always been living together in outer space.

Being aware of the generation gap helps professors craft lesson plans that are more meaningful, said Ron Nief, a former public affairs director at Beloit College and one of the list's creators.

Nief and English professor Tom McBride have assembled the Mindset List for 13 years. They say it's given them an unusual perspective on cultural shifts.

For example, as item No. 13 on the list says, "Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation."

With far edgier content available today, such as "South Park" or online videos that push the envelope, there's something quaint about recalling the hand-wringing that the MTV cartoon prompted, Nief said. "I think we do that with every generation -- we look back and say, what were we getting so upset about?" he said. "A, kids outgrow it and B, in retrospect we realize it really wasn't that bad."

Another Mindset List item reflects a possible shift in Hollywood attitudes. Item No. 12 notes: "Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry."

A number of incoming freshmen said they partially agreed with the item, noting they were familiar with Eastwood's work as an actor even if they hadn't seen his films.

"I know he directed movies but I also know he's supposed to be sort of bad-ass," said Aaron Ziontz, 18, from Seattle.

Jessica Peck, a 17-year-old from Portland, Ore., disagreed with two items on the list -- one that says few students know how to write in cursive, and another that suggests this generation seldom if ever uses snail mail.

"Snail mail's kind of fun. When I have time I like writing letters to friends and family," she said. "It's just a bit more personal. And yes, I write in cursive."

Peck did agree with the item pointing out that most teens have never used telephones with cords. "Yes, I've used them but only at my grandparents' house," she said.

That's the sort of comment that can make a person feel old. McBride jokes that he's not immune from feeling ancient just because he compiles the items. But the 65-year-old said the lists can also reveal a larger truth about tolerance.

The "Beavis and Butt-head" item suggests that maybe parents shouldn't overreact every time a controversy arises, he noted. For example, maybe it's no big deal if college freshmen misspell words when they text, and maybe their attention spans will be just fine even though they grew up in the Internet age, he said.

"There's something about the resilience of human nature that renders these gloom-and-doom prophesies moot after a while," he said. "I can't say for sure, but it looks like the track record of these very anxious prophets has not been impressive over the years."

August 11, 2010

Media, You Better Pay Attention

Apple's iPad Takes the Communication World by Storm

(Ed's Note: This article is from insidemusicmedia.blogspot.com.)

By Jerry Del Colliano

The iPad is the new Walkman.

No, it's more than that.

The iPad is the new Walkman, TV, newsstand, bookstore, Wii and communication center all in the palm of your hand.

For some reason, traditional media companies either don't get this or don't want to believe it. After all, acknowledging that Apple will be hosting their content in the foreseeable future is a scary thought to them.

There is no time to waste in understanding the changes that will have to be made to keep up with -- well, your consumers.

They are buying iPads as fast as Apple can make them. Hardly anyone doesn't want one. It's a matter of when they get the money. Over three million sold in less than three months and there is no reason to believe this demand will recede any time soon. Keep in mind that Apple has defied the recession and continues to do so with computers, iPods, iPads and iPhones.

How big is the iPad already?

1) iPad is Apple's third largest business in less than one season next to iPhones and Macs.

2) The apps that work so well on Apple mobile devices have generated nearly $1.5 billion in sales since their June 2008 launch.

3) In less than 3 months on the market, half of the Fortune 100 companies are either reported to be testing or launching the iPad for service, sales and other business functions.

4) The iPad will eventually have competitors although I don't see anyone overtaking Apple's dominance in this area (Full disclosure: I am an Apple shareholder). Other iPhone or mobile devices easily work with iPad apps.

So what's the delay?

Media companies are hanging on to what they've got -- what they are familiar with.

As I mentioned earlier, no one in traditional media likes to hand Steve Jobs 30% of their revenue just to get access to his commerce tools. They would rather have the greater expense of owning the towers, transmitters, printing
presses, bookstores and what not.

Record labels are particularly bitter and yet Jobs has triumphed and the labels have been made to look like prehistoric operators who have the one thing everyone loves (music), but don't seem to know how to distribute it to a market that has clearly moved on.

Traditional media companies don't like to risk moving their content to platforms that they don't fully understand. If you bought a radio group for billions of dollars, you wouldn't be so anxious to adapt to the fast growing mobile market while you're in over your head in debt to pay for the stations.

But there really is no time to waste.

Look to the record labels and do the opposite. They have let Apple break down their albums for easy cherry picking by consumers and yet they don't understand that the album had died a long time ago. The onset of the CD
emboldened record execs into making them think the album would never die.

It has.

Both creatively in some (not all) cases and as a means for consumers to access music.

If media companies, then, are procrastinating on embracing the iPad, here's how to accelerate the process:

1) Move right now to optimize your non-digital content for the iPad. This will be different than designing it for a computer or laptop and takes some creative thinking, but from now on the litmus test for delivery of content is how does it work on an iPad.

2) Social networking is at the heart of an iPad. Who needs magazines delivered on a handheld device if you can't talk to the authors directly or communicate with others reading the articles. The feature on digital books that shows you what others are underlining is one of my favorites. Cliff
Notes in the digital age.

3) All audio will need video. All video has audio. Both will need text and social networking. This is the Holy Grail of iPadding.

4) New content must be created by traditional media companies separate and
apart from what they do at their day jobs. This content -- preferably short-form -- does not even have to be consistent with what their main business is.

For example, if a radio station plays the hits, it can also maintain a sports blog that listeners can access. The deciding factor is monetization.

5) There are three major ways to monetize iPad content in my view – banner ads, event marketing and/or paid subscriptions. That means new ways to look at content creation before you do it. And it means attracting the kind of people who can sell this content not as an add-on but a standalone.

Many interactive opportunities and the revenue they suggest will be missed if the iPad does not become the major focus on every media company. I'm focusing on that right now. While challenging, it presents so much promise and I will share with you my experiences after Inside Music Media -- iPad-style is launched this fall.

The iPad is the great liberator from gatekeepers (other than Apple).

In the past, if you wanted to do a show, you needed to find a radio station to broadcast it.

Now, do content on the iPad and you will not need a radio station.

This is not taking anything away from radio or TV when it is local and live. That's a business -- a good one. But this is as well and it can run in tandem with traditional media or it can stand alone.

No one is in your way.

Nothing can stop you but a lack of trust in the mobile future and should that be a problem there is reassuring evidence all around us increasingly living their lives in real time, on the go and connected to each other.

Procrastinating is detrimental to your brand.

August 11, 2010 - 3rd Article

Reader Comment:

Let's See How Apple's Products Look After the "Jury" Comes Back With the Evidence

By Rich

It'll be interesting to see what the "death grip" antenna problem will do over the long term. Sales have dropped off dramatically. I've now had three of them. One had a bad battery and the signal problem. I returned the second for that reason. I'm not sure why but I bought another. It's a great phone if you don't need to make phone calls.

Apple and BP must share the same PR firm. Steve Jobs hasn't been honest about the issue. He blamed the signal strength bars. The fix didn't work. Now he's trying to shift the problem to other phones. There's such a demand for the free rubber bumpers that mine will be shipped sometime in October.

It was a bad time for this to happen. Android (Google) phone sales are outpacing the iPhone.

I know several former Apple lovers who have abandoned the iPhone for the Droids. Two major reasons: Apple's betrayal and AT&T's lousy network. They love their Android phones and the far superior performance of Verizon.

Instead of beefing up their network, AT&T is now charging new customers for measured service. I still have unlimited data. Every contact with them results in pressure to save $5 a month for the limited service by dropping my unlimited plan. With all the new content providers, a customer could end up paying a fortune.

Couple that with the Google/Verizon attempt to shift wireless networks to throttled service in favor of huge companies willing to pay. The Comcast decision allows it to restrict bandwidth to "heavy user" customers. The same will be true for wireless. Of course, the price will remain the same even though service levels will be reduced.

Apple iPad users will probably suffer most. They'll use more bandwidth for video.

Netflix hopes to move customers from DVDs to streaming. A full-length movie requires a lot of data. I have HDTV and a Blu-Ray player. My laptop is high resolution and it's convenient to watch a movie anywhere in the house.

Broadcasters who stream may suffer badly. Couple the cost per listener with the oncoming performance tax and many may follow Jerry Lee's path (WBEB, Philadelphia) of not bothering with it.

Rich

August 11, 2010 - 2nd Article

Internet Viewing Takes Over

Readership of Newspapers Continues to Nose Dive, But the Print Media Rate Better on the Accuracy of Their Content

By Mathew Ingram

The number of Americans who say that newspapers are an important source of
information continues to decline, according to a survey by the The Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

Only 56 percent of Internet users surveyed agreed with the statement that newspapers were an important or very important source of information, while 68 percent said that television was, and 78 percent said that the Internet was.

The findings are part of the Annenberg School's ongoing Digital Future Project, which has been surveying Americans on their views and behavior related to the Internet for 10 years.

To make matters worse for the industry, the Center's survey also found that newspapers are continuing to decline as a source of entertainment as well -- only 29 percent of those surveyed said that newspapers were an important source of entertainment, down from 32 percent in 2008.

Yikes! Say It Isn't True

Almost 20 percent of users said that they had canceled a subscription to a newspaper or magazine because they now get the same or related content online, and 59 percent said that if the print edition of their newspaper stopped publishing they would read the online version. Only 37 percent said that they would read the print edition of another newspaper.

In an interesting counterpoint to the numbers on newspaper readership, however, the Annenberg survey also found that a growing number of Internet users do not believe that information they find online is reliable.

So There Is Another Side to the Coin

A majority of users said that less than half of the information they get from the Internet is reliable, a new low for the 10-year-old study, and 14 percent of users said that only a small portion of the information they find online is reliable. Less than half of those surveyed said that they had some trust or a lot of trust in the Internet in general.

In other words, Americans increasingly see the Internet as an important source of information, despite the fact that they view much of that information as unreliable. Depending on how you feel about Internet users in general, that's either a baffling example of contradictory behavior, or a sign of healthy skepticism about online media.

August 2, 2010

Technology Run Rampant

It's "iDosing" – A New Buzz From Your Headphones and Ear Buds

(Ed's Note: As a 66-year-old, technically-challenged senior citizen, I see each arrival of a new tech device as a gadget for my children or grandchildren to use when they are making a lot of money, being lazy or getting into trouble. I post these kind of articles on my web site because it is a big world with a lot of people of different generations trying to get about the business of living. This article originally appeared in WebMD.)

By Daniel DeNoon

It's called iDosing, and if you haven't yet heard of it, you will.

Marketers -- prominently iDoser.com -- have dubbed the downloadable recordings iDose, and the name has stuck. It's the latest Internet fad. The recordings claim to mimic the effects of drugs both legal (caffeine, aspirin) and illegal (cocaine, marijuana). And yes, the first ones are free.

The iDose recordings play a tone of different frequency in each ear. That induces a very odd phenomenon called "binaural beat." You hear a beat -- but you're really hearing it from inside your brain, not from your ears.

The beat you hear is actually the frequency equal to the difference between the frequencies coming in each ear. In addition to the binaural beat, some of the recordings also play music or background noise.

So what's the big deal? In a real sense, the iDose recordings really are mind altering. Binaural beats, researchers have documented, really induce temporary changes in your brain activity.

After listening to several of the recordings -- including one infamously dubbed "Gates of Hell" -- I'm still feeling slightly dizzy an hour later. But then, I got pretty much the same effect the first time I heard the Beatles' Revolution 9 on my sister's headphones.

Much more dramatic effects can be seen on YouTube, where young people have posted videos of their peers laughing, crying, or ripping off their headphones in fear. Much of this is badly acted sham. Some appears real. It's not clear what the true effects are.

My best guess is that the recordings, especially if played with the eyes covered and the body relaxed, may induce a mild trance. This leaves the user open to the suggestion that the recordings will make a person feel silly or sad or scared.

And the modulation of the binaural beat truly may be inducing an altered mental state, as has been seen in brain-wave studies. As with everything, some people may be more susceptible to pleasant experiences -- or to bummers -- than others are.

Is it dangerous? Some media already are raising the alarm, suggesting that even if iDosing isn't dangerous itself, it's paving the way to drug use. Others are saying it's no big deal. As for me, I'd rather play the White Album again.

July 23, 2010

It Has Arrived Big Time

Tech Guru Richard Frisch on The Rise of the Personal Appliance Era

(Ed's Note: This is an article Richard Frisch, a tech guru, sent to his clients. He can be reached in Connecticut at >rhftech.com<. The article is copyrighted by Financial Alliance, LLC.)

By Richard Frisch

The personal computer (PC) revolution began in the 1970s. It altered our lives. None of us ever wanted a mainframe or mini-computer in our houses but a PC was different.

First it changed how we wrote, with rudimentary word processors, like WordStar, and how we calculated, with the early spreadsheet programs like VisiCalc. PCs changed how we communicated, as they became connected, first by telephone networks like CompuServe and later on the Internet.

Telephone calls and written mail gave way to email, instant messaging, chat, and VoIP (e.g. Skype). The Internet would not have been possible without PCs.

Today, we use still and video cameras differently than in pre-PC days. We rarely print photos, instead we share them digitally. We listen to music and watch Internet-streamed video that would have not been possible without PCs.

I could go on at length comparing the pre-PC and post-PC periods, but this article is about the next era, an evolution more than a revolution -- the rise of the personal appliance (PA).

The word appliance is defined as, "A device that is very useful for a particular job." These are devices like smartphones-Android cellphones, BlackBerrys, iPhones-and tablet PAs, i.e., iPads.

Today the tablet-form PA is only available from Apple since there are not yet any iPad competitors. This will change before year-end. Soon there will be lots of alternatives to the iPad. Many of these will be Android devices.

HP is supposedly developing a webOS-based tablet since their recent acquisition of Palm, and Microsoft has stated that its equipment partners will have Windows 7 tablets available soon.

imageWhat differentiates the PC and the PA? PC devices are general purpose. They can do almost anything. Personal appliances cannot. PA devices are limited in function and feature set. They do a few things very well, some things okay, some things poorly, and some things not at all.

For example, you can't print from an iPad. PAs are primarily communications or consumption devices. They are not designed for producing. I can imagine trying to compose this article on an iPad or a smartphone. I would not want to.

Personal appliances appeal to the general population. PCs, including Macs, are frightfully complex devices. It is amazing to me that people put up with this complexity so that they can surf the Internet and read email.

The iPad does away with that complexity. There is only one physical button for navigating the user interface (UI). Contrast that with a PC that has special navigation keys on the keyboard and pointing devices like a mouse or touchpad. Smartphones and the iPad UIs are designed for one finger navigation. Your other nine fingers are superfluous.

One disadvantage to PAs is that we will end up collecting a lot of them. PAs, unlike PCs, are rarely shared. We will end up with cellphones and PA tablets. You may also own a gaming device like the PSP (PlayStation Portable). Many of you have ebook readers like the Amazon Kindle. And you may still want a media player device like an iPod.

All these devices come with power adapters and cables to connect them to our PCs. Our future is one of even greater technology clutter than today, more unidentifiable cables and power adapters, and discarded out-of-date PAs.

Curiously, we are not happy with our devices. We complain about their shortcomings. We forget how fantastic they are and all the marvelous things they do. Remember using a rotary phone? Today I can tell my cell phone to, "Phone home." I don't even have to remember the phone number. That is real convenience.

Incidentally, convenience is a synonym for appliance.

July 23, 2010 - 2nd Article

The Most Memorable Quotes on Technology

Bill Gates is a very rich man today... and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions.
Dave Barry

Congress will pass a law restricting public comment on the Internet to individuals who have spent a minimum of one hour actually accomplishing a specific task while on line.
Andy Grove

Do you realize if it weren't for Edison we'd be watching TV by candlelight?
Al Boliska

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
Gertrude Stein

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
Richard P. Feynman

For my confirmation, I didn't get a watch and my first pair of long pants, like most Lutheran boys. I got a telescope. My mother thought it would make the best gift.
Wernher von Braun

Gates is the ultimate programming machine. He believes everything can be defined, examined, reduced to essentials, and rearranged into a logical sequence that will achieve a particular goal.
Stewart Alsop

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.
Mitchell Kapor

Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.
R. Buckminster Fuller

I am sorry to say that there is too much point to the wisecrack that life is extinct on other planets because their scientists were more advanced than ours.
John F. Kennedy

I don't have to write about the future. For most people, the present is enough like the future to be pretty scary.
William Gibson

I just invent, then wait until man comes around to needing what I've invented.
R. Buckminster Fuller

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.
Frank Lloyd Wright

If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.

Omar N. Bradley

Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
Ambrose Bierce

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
Albert Einstein

It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.
Clive James

It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being.
John Stuart Mill

It may not always be profitable at first for businesses to be online, but it is certainly going to be unprofitable not to be online.
Esther Dyson

It's impossible to move, to live, to operate at any level without leaving traces, bits, seemingly meaningless fragments of personal information.
William Gibson

Just as we could have rode into the sunset, along came the Internet, and it tripled the significance of the PC.
Andy Grove

Men have become the tools of their tools.
Henry David Thoreau

Microsoft isn't evil, they just make really crappy operating systems.
Linus Torvalds

One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
Elbert Hubbard

People are stunned to hear that one company has data files on 185 million Americans.
Ralph Nader

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.
Alan Kay

Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.
Alan Kay

Real programmers can write assembly code in any language.
Larry Wall

Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds.
John Perry Barlow

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.
Jean Arp

Style used to be an interaction between the human soul and tools that were limiting. In the digital era, it will have to come from the soul alone.
Jaron Lanier

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
Aldous Huxley

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.
Daniel J. Boorstin

Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.
Max Frisch

Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.
Carrie P. Snow

Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
Ambrose Bierce

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
Alan Kay

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.
Bill Gates

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.
Andrew Brown

The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.
Dave Barry

The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.
Thomas Sowell

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.
Edward R. Murrow

The only thing that I'd rather own than Windows is English, because then I could charge you $249 for the right to speak it.
Scott McNealy

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.
B. F. Skinner

The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology.
E. F. Schumacher

The typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano when played by a sister or near relation.
Oscar Wilde

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life.
John F. Kennedy

There are three roads to ruin; women, gambling and technicians. The most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with gambling, but the surest is with technicians.
Georges Pompidou

Time moves in one direction, memory in another.
William Gibson

We are the children of a technological age. We have found streamlined ways of doing much of our routine work. Printing is no longer the only way of reproducing books. Reading them, however, has not changed.
Lawrence Clark Powell

What the country needs are a few labor-making inventions.
Arnold H. Glasow

Why shouldn't we give our teachers a license to obtain software, all software, any software, for nothing? Does anyone demand a licensing fee, each time a child is taught the alphabet?
William Gibson

You affect the world by what you browse.
Tim Berners-Lee

July 9, 2010

Are These Sites Becoming Annoying?

Here Are the New Rules of Mass Media Social Networking According to Jerry Del Colliano

(Ed's Note: This article by Jerry Del Colliano originally appeared in >insidemusicmedia.blogspot.com<)

By Jerry Del Colliano

A few months ago Facebook was in lots of hot water with its fans for breaching privacy boundaries.

Then, we learned that Google had been using its roving vans used to create online mapping for the purpose of collecting data about websites users who were logging into over wireless networks. Google claims it was a mistake.

Some musicians are complaining -- in fact a growing number -- that just using social networks like Facebook to connect with fans is a distraction from creative work and reduces them to office help answering messages.

In an articled titled "Is Social Media Saving Music?", the focus is on too much information.

Jeremy Messersmith, a Minneapolis singer and songwriter, told Spinner that he limited his interaction with fans to 15 or 20 people a day via Twitter.

Imagine that in this day of Twitter and Facebook.

Messersmith says:

"There's a songwriter out of New York. He'll spend four or five hours a day answering e-mails, which to me seems fairly excessive. At that point, I'd think I may as well have an office job if I'm answering e-mails for five hours a day."

President Obama in a recent Hampton University (Virginia) commencement address raised a ruckus when he told the graduating class:

"With iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation . So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

Remember, this is a president who got elected on money raised through Internet social networking, and who gave the Queen an iPod, and who refused to give up his Blackberry even for security reasons when he was inaugurated (Secret Service developed a secure handheld for him).

All of this as the radio industry still tries to figure out what social networking is.

Many think it is Twitter and Facebook.

Continue to resist the study of their listeners' sociology, and instead seem to want to impose their will on listeners' habits and lifestyles.

What is beginning to happen is that social media is becoming suspect.

No one is going to want to give up such inexpensive and easy connections any time soon, but it appears that people from all walks of life, including the entertainment industry, are rethinking what it means.

Consumers are as well.

Maybe you are like me, connected 24/7.

Wake up answering mail. Sending texts and emails on the go all day.

If social networking is driving songwriters to distraction and folks threaten to quit Facebook over privacy concerns, then what is to become of social media?

Facebook, looking for new ways to raise revenue, informed every user in December to take a look at their privacy controls but at the same time Facebook arguably made it more difficult to switch privacy controls on or off as it immediately switched the default setting to sharing information about family, friends, work and relationships with everyone else.

Then an old email leaked from Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, that appeared to some to show a lack of consideration for those people who actually trusted him with their private data.

Next, tech guru Leo Laporte and author Cory Doctorow deleted their accounts in a public display of protest arguing that if privacy could not be protected, social media was not worth the risk.

For these reasons and anecdotal input from young people, I am sensing a change coming that will impact the entertainment and information industry -- many of which barely understand what social networking is currently.

Some thoughts:

1. Students and others are not going to give up any social media even if it makes them feel better or allows them to make better decisions as President Obama intimates. They are, however, going to eventually learn to manage their mobile/Internet devices better to live a less stressful life.

2. I know many young people who sleep with their cellphones! Text in the middle of the night. Go back to sleep. Ask around, you'll verify this if you have not already observed it. Even if consumers continue to be turned on all the time, your messages may not get through and resonate. Also worth mulling.

3. In the few months that I've owned my iPad I am delighted to read books that I can buy on a whim, toggle to my email and perform other tasks until I am ready to drop. I fall asleep in a chair with my iPad on my lap. And sleep hasn't been all that good since I got it.

Some observers insist that the digital screen may over stimulate the brain, but whatever it is doing to me my addiction to the iPad has not helped my sleep -- questioning what good it is to be connected all day if overuse makes you tired.

4. When I was a professor at USC, I did a project where I asked my students to give up their cellphones and iPods. Result: increased anxiety. I can feel their pain. I don't want to give up my mobile/Internet devices either and probably will not. They were happy to get their devices back after two days and didn't enjoy being disconnected but many were concerned that 24/7 connectivity was not good for them. Translated: mobile crack.

As individuals, we will learn a lot by our behavior and studying the sociology of technology. That is, will I bring my iPad to the beach at Long Beach Island (New Jersey) this August and really get a vacation or just get a deeper sunburn on the top of my head while it is buried in the Apple device? One thing is for sure. I won't be alone.

As media executives and entrepreneurs, will we finally learn that Facebook and Twitter is just entry-level social media?

As you'll see me write in the months ahead, the key to understanding the present evolution of social media is a redefinition of what a group of fans are, and how to connect with them. I am studying this for business reasons as well. And I will share in the months ahead.

If not just Facebook and Twitter then how do you develop a way to stay connected with fans in a meaningful way?

Some clues:

1. Never mass market toward friends and social network followers because that is getting old, and turning social media into a modern day direct mail (which I sometimes feel is being done) is a prescription for failure.

2. Social media must be two-way communication not one-way -- the way radio stations and lots of others find it easier to do. Interact. Present a way for everyone in your "clubhouse" to talk to you and each other. It takes participation. Fans know when you have assigned social networking to someone with whom they would never choose to communicate.

3. Only say that which is worth communicating. As in life, fewer words can have more impact than too many words. People don't have the time to read everything on your mind. Perhaps this explains the popularity of Twitter's 140 characters.

The world is progressively all getting attention deficit or at the very least, impatience with the communications process.

If you can begin to see phase II of social networking on the horizon then you will not lose sight of the potential ahead as we sort these issues out.

July 9, 2010 - 2nd Article

Another View on the Advent of Mass Media Social Networking and Its Revenue Stream

(Ed's Note: This reaction by Bob Griffith was to Jerry Del Collinao's post on the new rules of mass media social networking. Bob is a smart, savvy, media guy so I share his thoughts here.)

By Bob Griffith

Happy Summer guys...cloudy and drizzling in LA, 105 in NY, go figure!

There is a book out, really a manifesto, called You Are Not a Gadget by Jared Lanier (original Internet guy) wherein he discusses the real problems w/Internet 2.0. He talks about the disintegration of personhood, privacy and the danger of "hive-thinking" and assuming mass is always correct.

It falls into the area below and is fascinating. Being a child of the 60's there was a lot of peer pressure w/ drug experimentation, and now its connection, gadgets, & belonging to an online community w/ all your friends or people you want to be friends with.

Most kids find out the hard way that when you post something it is out there for all to see...not just your 10 school buddies. Example... I have a friend that went to Michigan State and she posted something about the basketball team.

I kiddingly posted "was MSU a 4-year school"? I got 10 responses from MSU grads chastising me that MSU was a very special place, academically excellent, and they went there.

Interestingly enough, no sense of humor, intrusively volunteering I didn't know what I was talking about, etc.

Lesson learned!

Google's mantra "Do no evil" is a perspective, not an edict. What if you invent something that turns out to be evil? The only 2 revenue models out there presently, based on the data management models all social networks have, are targeted advertising sales and subscriptions.

No one wants to pay a subscription to Facebook, so what's left to pay those bill?

June 27, 2010 - 2nd Article

Tech Toy Withdrawal Leaves Them With Anxiety

Unplug the Teens Today and Their Whole World Almost Falls Apart Instantly

(Ed's Note: This article by Jerry Del Colliano first appeared in >insidemusicmedia.blogspot.dom<)

By Jerry Del Colliano

What happens when you take mobile devices and cell phones away from the next generation?

A new study has become public that confirms what I discovered when, as a professor of music industry, I asked students at the University of Southern California to go iPod and cell phone free for 2 days.

The new study was conducted by the International Center for Media & Public Agenda and students at the Merrill College of Journalism in Maryland.

In the Maryland research, 200 students were asked to give up all media for 24 hours. Students then had to report their experiences.

The USC project involved 44 students who were required to give up their iPods and cell phones for 2 days, or opt to write me a 27-page paper. Obviously, no one chose the paper.

They were also allowed to use traditional media to replace iPods and cell phones but few chose to.

In both studies, the conclusion was the same -- abstinence meant anxiety.

They missed texting, calling and staying connected to friends. Many did a workaround by asking friends to text people for them -- clever. Their professor (me) never thought of that one.

Some of my students discovered pay phones and didn't like them.

Most could easily live without their iPods for 2 days. Few could stand being without cell phone connectivity even though some admitted to enjoying being free from constant contact.

In the Maryland experiment, students reported missing information.

The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project reported that text messaging has become the number one way teens reach their friends with as many as half of them sending 50 or more text messages a day -- 1,500 per month. And 1 in 3 send more than 100 texts a day or more than 3,000 per month,

The Maryland study includes college students who send even more text messages -- 5,000 or more a month. One participant admitted to sending more than 9,000 texts a month.

You wonder why radio operators get their backs up when I remind them that text messaging is their biggest competitor -- not another station, not Internet streaming, not iPods.

A Pew study in 2008 indicated that the Internet had overtaken newspapers as the main source of campaign news in the United States for the first time. Now the Maryland undergrads rarely mention television and newspapers when talking about their news habits.

There are conclusions that are noteworthy in both the Maryland and USC research:

1. Students and presumably young people of the next generation crave the latest technology to keep them in touch and connected to the people they choose.

2. Students do not care about traditional journalism in spite of what traditional journalists think. In the Maryland study it became apparent they did not care about newspapers, TV or even blogs (ouch!).

3. What mattered most was gathering information through numerous ways, devices, networks, sites and applications. In other words, the next generation is their own editor.

If all this is true, and I believe it to be, perhaps you can see why I think our focus should be understanding both technology and sociology going forward.

The radio industry offers 24/7 programs in an era that defies the findings of these two studies.

Radio believes that listeners exist to follow their lead, hear their content and let them choose the ways in which they will be entertained. This is a major misjudgment of the emerging new audience.

It's obvious as to why radio operators feel this way after all, they own towers and transmitters that are designed to broadcast programming in real-time all the time.

But the world no longer lives in real time.

Consumers have gathered numerous ways to get access to what they need to know and what to hear when they want it on demand. And if this is true, and I believe it to be, can you see why radio stations need to go back to the drawing board to create a new kind of content for the next generation.

Radio as we know it today will not exist one day too soon.

Record labels will become irrelevant (if they aren't already) even sooner.

But radio companies that invest now to hedge their bets will find a new growth industry in a world that has technologically and sociologically changed from the days when this video was produced. It was made in 1951 about the independent station WMCA in New York City then owned by the Strauss family. It is dated and will give you a laugh here and there but if you're like me you'll see two things.

One, why radio was so important when it did things like WMCA and local stations of its day did and two, how this very ancient example kind of gives perspective as to how radio has changed to repeater formats and national focus with emphasis on cheap entertainment.

You can view this WMCA video here (thanks to Neal Mirsky)

You may conclude, as I do, that the natural evolution of radio from the WMCA days to today must be one of redeploying the use of talent and marketing and community service using today's preferred mobile Internet devices.

To do less will land you in the Museum of Radio and TV.

To do more will guarantee you a prominent position in the lifestyle of consumers who have changed from 60 years ago and will continue to change as new devices and preferences present themselves to the next generation

June 25, 2010

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Can Really Matter Later in Life

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word "refrigeration" mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched "Jeopardy" on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, "How about going to in a half hour?" She would gas up and stammer, "I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain."

And my personal favorite: "It's Monday." She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of "I'm going to," "I plan on" and "Someday, when things are settled down a bit."

When anyone calls my "seize the moment" friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for 5 minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, "We'll do it tomorrow." And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say "Hi"?

Now, go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to, not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

April 6, 2010

Guest Article

A Whopping 52% of Bloggers Consider Themselves Journalists – Are You Kidding Me, Mate?

(Ed's Note: As someone who has spent 20 years in the newspaper business as an investigative reporter, sports editor and managing editor for a daily newspaper, and an 87% majority owner of a print media publishing company, I found this article interesting.)

By Leena Rao

According to a new study released by PR Week and PR Newswire, 52% percent of bloggers surveyed consider themselves journalists. This is an increase from 2009's study, when just one in three had the same opinion. However, despite this, only 20% of bloggers obtain the majority of their income from their blogs; which is an 4% increase from 2009.

A few other stats caught our attention as well. When it comes to using blogs and social networks, like Twitter or Facebook, for research, 91% of bloggers and 68% of online reporters "always" or "sometimes" use blogs for research.

But only 35% of newspaper and 38% of print magazine journalists surveyed use blogs or social networks for research purposes.

The stats are even more interesting when it comes to using Twitter, which is often a place for breaking news and consumer trends, alone for research. 64% of bloggers and 36% of online reporters said they use Twitter as a research tool for stories.

But only 19% of newspaper reporters and 17% of print magazine reporters use the microblogging network as a resource for research. Newspaper and print magazine reporters also source Twitter less frequently than their online counterparts with 19% and 22% saying they have used a Twitter post in a story, respectively.

This is in contrast to the higher use of sourcing Twitter for stories for bloggers (55%), online magazine/news (42%) and even TV news (48%).

Here at TechCrunch, we rely on other blogs for research even more than traditional news outlets. And we use Twitter as a tool not just for breaking news, but also to evaluate the sentiment of consumers about a particular product or service.

For example, my colleague MG Siegler used the breaking news of Tiger Woods' car accident to show the inherent value of Twitter when it comes to the speed of reporting news.

Added comment by Ed Bagley:

I am not impressed by using Twitter or Facebook as a single news source. I would not rely on such communications without collaborating evidence of a news event. In today's world of communication, any idiot can post anything online without supporting evidence or respect for objectivity and the truth.

Mark Twain said that "If you don't read the newspapers you are considered uninformed; it you do read them you are misinformed." Twain was a comedian and a writer of the highest order, yet the same applies to today's world.

One might say that if you don't use Twitter and Facebook you are uninformed about what is going on in the world, and if you do rely on Twitter and Facebook you could be easily misinformed. Twitter might be fast, but its merit is also limited and shallow.

I will stick to multiple sources for reports on news events, especially since fully three-quarters of what these sources have to offer has little to do with anything of substance, and is most often misleading or misinformed.

April 3, 2010

Guest Article

Young People May Not Be Able to Relate to This Message, But Trust Me When I Say, I Can

(Ed's Note: Not everyone will be able to relate to this article, especially if they have not lived for at least 6 decades. We live in an over-communicated world that is many times voiceless, faceless and inane. Here is one grandpa's experience.)

By a Grandpa Somewhere in America

I thought about the 30-year business I ran with 1,800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my 7 kids, their spouses, 13 grand-kids and 2 great grand-kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grand-kids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every 3 minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Bluetooth [it's red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it and I got a little loud.

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, "Re-calc-ul-ating" You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still have not figured out how I can lose 3 phones all at once and have to run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden "Paper or Plastic?" every time I check out just knocks me for a loop. I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused but I never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, "Paper or Plastic?" I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual." Then it is their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

I was recently asked if I tweet. I answered, "No, but I do toot occasionally."

February 16, 2010

Point:

The Printed Word Is Fading From View, So Get Over It!

(Ed's Note: Richard Frisch is a computer expert at rhftech.com who has some thoughts about the written word and its future in our society. I am interested because I am a writer, and have enjoyed and used the written word for more than 50 years to make a living.)

By Richard Frisch

It is ironic that I am writing about the decline and fall of the written word. The written word had a great run, starting perhaps as many as 6,000 years ago with Sumerian cuneiform. Writing has to compete today with more compelling and natural forms of human communication—audio and video—often served on the Internet.

Many people bemoan the decline of printed material. They equate the rise of the Internet, and inexpensive-to-produce video and audio, coming at the detriment of printed words, as a decline in civilization. You may be someone who holds this opinion.

It is easy to understand the sense of loss and dis-connectedness caused by this technological shift. At its core, this attitude is elitist and reminiscent of the Luddites.

(Ed's Note: The Luddites were a social movement of British textile artisans in the 18th Century who protested—often by destroying mechanized looms—against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt where leaving them without work and changing their entire way of life. The introduction of new wide-framed automated looms that could be operated by cheap, relatively unskilled labor resulted in the loss of jobs for many skilled textile workers.)

This attitude ignores the democratic nature of the shift from printed to electronic communication. Time is limited. We elect to use our time in the way that makes the most sense to ourselves. Most people prefer to watch TV, listen to music, audio books or podcasts, or surf the Internet over reading a book, newspaper or magazine.

imageWriting and the written word is not natural. We must be schooled to read and write. It was the best disciplined, efficient way to communicate or archive information when alternatives were word-of-mouth, painting or smoke signals. The use of the written word exploded over the course of civilization because of this.

Johannes Gutenberg's invention of movable type printing accelerated the use of the printed word in Western culture and eventually worldwide. Public schooling further accelerated this trend.

Public schools, grades K-12, are conservative by nature. They are slow to change. They revel in the written word having had centuries to perfect their skills in teaching and assessing its use. Our teachers are written word experts. They are rarely expert in the creation and use of video and audio. Our children learn this from each other, from Hollywood, YouTube and other sites on the Internet. They have eclipsed the education system in their understanding and use of these newer technologies.

I find that listening to a well-narrated audio book trumps the written word. The narrator, often a professionally trained actor, brings the author's words to life. The narrators often employ different voices for different characters. Non-fiction is also enhanced by having it spoken versus reading it yourself. Tables, charts and images are the only-missing piece.

I view audio and video is to the written word as oil painting is to drawing with pencil. These activities require training and discipline. The author, artist or director has to tell a story, communicate what is on their mind. The better the story telling, the more likely the audience will appreciate the effort.

Mastering oil painting is more difficult than drawing. The painter often begins with a sketch but adds color, stroke, technique and dimension, as well as form and perspective. The same is true of audio and video. One begins with a script and then fills in the detail and enhances that script. Creating a good video requires many more skills than writing the script.

While schools may be slow to adopt technology many librarians understand and are changing. Librarians are evolving their missions from being keepers and lenders of printed material. Our local libraries, Westport and Wilton, Connecticut spring to mind, have become public facilities for all types of human communication.

They have public computer terminals, lend audio books and videos, and host movies and seminars. They make online audio book borrowing available via the services of the Online Computer Library Center. If libraries are moving beyond the printed word, shouldn't we all?

February 16, 2010 – 2nd Article

Counterpoint:

Is the Fate of the Written Word Tied to Popularity?

(Ed's Note: This article offers a contrasting view to the one expressed in today's lead guest article by Richard Frisch titled "The Printed Word Is Fading From View, So Get Over It!".)

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

The advent of technology in the last decade has led to a handheld device that allows the user to make telephone calls, access the Internet, watch television, download data and music, and probably even more features I am unaware of since I do not use said device.

It is not that I could not use the handheld device; it is that I choose not to use it. It is not necessary for me to use the device to experience the kind of life I want to live.

I have lived for 65 years, and while I marvel at the technology of the moment, I am not as taken with it as my children and grandchildren. If Richard Frisch was part of my generation, then we certainly grew up in different rooms of the same house.

If Richard's view of the world arrives as he suspects, then I will be on the outside looking in—he will have technology on his side and I will have the written word on my side. This is primarily because I do not learn and retain knowledge by listening, viewing or doing—I learn by reading the written word. It may well be one of the reasons why I became a writer.

My son does not read or learn the way that I do, he is different and just as successful in the world. He learns by listening and doing, and he retains what he learns amazingly well. He can hear something and if he wants to remember it, he can recite it almost on cue.

I suppose I should applaud the advance of technology without exception, but I do not.

Perhaps I have been in too many power outages. Some people just laugh at me when they discover that I have a landline and no cell phone. Cell phones are nice when you have a breakdown on the road and can easily call for help. I do not have a cell phone because I do not want to be that available—a lot of youngsters cannot get through the day without talking on their cell phone or texting messages for hours.

You can apparently even send naked pictures of yourself over your cell phone, imagine for a moment what fun that can be when your naked pictures end up on YouTube. Yes, our children have some great moments, but not all of them are bright.

The main reason I want a landline is for my family's health and safety. Should a power outage occur, I can still use my landline in an emergency without having electricity. People counter by saying they can still use their cell phone in a power outage. I am smart enough to know there can also be dead zones, or transmission failures, in trying to complete a call.

Perhaps I also have received too many emails from people who would rather email me than talk to me in person. I really find emails to be very annoying. Email users and texting artists have practically become illiterate in their messages—they do wonderfully communicating in their own age group, but can fail miserably when crossing generation gaps.

Another thing that bothers me about emails is that they are voiceless and faceless, users actually can and do hide behind emails in too many situations. It is easy, for example, to dump your boyfriend or girlfriend by just emailing them to "Drop Dead"—certainly not an advance in the art of winning friends and influencing people, not to mention people skills.

When I do business with people of any generation, I want to do it eyeball-to-eyeball. I want the field intelligence I get when looking directly at the person I am communicating with, knowing they will not be as apt to say and do things to my face that they will do behind my back, or with the help of "blind" technology.

My second choice in communication would be over the phone. I can also gain important field intelligence by listening to the tone and attitude of people when they are talking to me, which is something I cannot get from emails and texting messages, neither of which I am inclined to do.

I am admittedly concerned about the apparent decline in reading by the younger generations. They seem constantly glued to a monitor or screen, playing mindless video games—many of which engage them in violent behavior—or choosing to communicate with their friends without actually seeing them.

The advent of technology is dominated by its usage, and the stream runs very, very fast if not deep and of substance, kind of like riding a bicycle for miles and miles while going nowhere in particular. To me, technology offers tools but not the answers to any important questions in life.

I wonder why our children and grandchildren are having such difficult times in forming lasting relationships. Some statistics suggest that 30% of our eligible population is single, many of whom have significant others or rotating live-in partners. Commitment seems to be a crucial issue for our younger people today—they marry later, or not at all, and have children much later than they did years ago.

Could all of this technology be putting up an invisible barrier between significant communication and relationships with others? People who used to have 5 good friends now have 1. Our skills at communicating eyeball-to-eyeball could be diminishing, and if our electrical grid fails, will we be able to see and find each other in the dark, or will be too afraid to look?

Richard can stick with technology and its future advance in our civilization. I will be the keeper of the written word, it may not be around forever, but neither will I. When I pass, I will not be leaving behind a cell phone or my monitor, I will be leaving behind the words I have written.

Richard thinks the written word could perhaps have been around for 6,000 years. Reading has taught me that there was a time when the better part of all knowledge in the world would not have been passed on to future generations if it were not for the monks in the middle ages. While the world was passing them by they recorded history by candlelight and oil lamps. Had they not done so, there may not have been technology as we know it today.

December 22, 2009 – 2nd Article

Brother Jack Slows Down Enough to Learn a Valuable Lesson During the Christmas Rush

(Ed's Note: The following personal letter was written by Brother Jack to his family, and chronicles something most of us have trouble controlling—our time and what we are doing with it as we pass through life.)

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been too long since I've written. Forgive me. For a while I was acting pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes, the director of formation for our Province, the director of ministry formation for the student brothers here in Boston, and instructor in Sacred Scripture for the Maryknoll lay missioners, all of which entailed a good bit of travel.

Rushing, as Thomas Merton observed 60 years ago, is a contemporary form of violence that does harm to ourselves and those around us.

Moving from one duty to another without taking a breath often made me oblivious to those most in need of my attention. Gratefully, God had a way of stopping me. A chance encounter with a woman I see every week at The Shattuck, Boston's hospital for its chronically ill and street people, became a wonderful reminder of how simple life can be.

About a month ago I injured my heel. Each night I put some salve on it and it would be a bit better in the morning, but by the end of most days, it was sore again.

The following Sunday I was walking into the chapel at The Shattuck when "Maria", a young woman with severe mental illness, asked me if she could look at my sandal. Bemused, I said, "Sure, Maria, you can see my sandal. Do you want to buy one?"

"No, Brother Jack," she said sheepishly. "You've been limping slightly and I was wondering if there was something wrong with your sandal."

I assured her my sandals were fine. Still, as she fingered the back of my sandal, she began to smile triumphantly. "Maybe they'll be even better if you take this little nail out." Laughing delightedly, Maria pulled the nail out and, as you might imagine, I haven't had any heel problems since.

A woman, hospitalized with mental illness for five years, from whom almost no one expects anything, paid close attention to the way I walked and cared enough to try to understand why I was limping. While the friars with whom I lived noticed my hesitant gait and asked whether I had hurt myself, I resisted their inquiries and assured them it was nothing.

But Maria not only noticed, she ignored my attempt at humor and acted on what she saw. Her willingness to push past my defenses gave me the gift of walking freely again and forced me to think about the "nails" all of us have in our hearts that we too often hide and keep from others. More, we often fail to say anything about the "nails" we see in others, for fear we will be thought intrusive. How sad!

I like to think it was a poor, compassionate woman like Maria who saw Mary nine months pregnant and led her and Joseph to a barn and manger behind the inn that had no room for them.

But whatever the truth is about Jesus' birth, Christmas is a time to remember the dozens of Marias' in our lives, those soul friends who refuse to let us suffer needlessly or lose our way completely, even when we try to push them away or ignore them.

Christmas is also a time to slow down and delight in those around us, especially those
who think of their pain as a nuisance for others. Moreover, finding the courage to notice and gently point out the "nails" in the hearts and lives of those closest to us, might be the best Christmas present we can give to family members and friends.

Every year I write these holiday notes not simply to tell you about my life, but because I believe all of you have faith stories that need telling. Parents and grandparents especially need to share their faith journey with their children and grandchildren.

The next generation will not be people of faith because someone convinces them of the truth of our faith traditions, but because they caught the faith from us. Your faith journeys are more powerful than any catechism.

May Christmas and the New Year bring you great joy!

Love and prayers, Jack

December 21, 2009

Breaking Barriers

How Advances in Technology Affect the Way We Communicate in Today's World

(Ed's Note: This guest article by Brian Steinberg appeared in Advertising Age magazine, which provides analysis and data on marketing and media, and explores the changes that may affect television as it converges with the Internet and web-connected devices in today's world. It makes me think about moving along a steam much quicker but perhaps not deeper as our method of communication expands. For anyone in sales, marketing or Internet marketing, the demographics provide valuable information; when I move this article inside my web site it will appear in both my Lessons in Life Section and in my Internet Marketing Section. I have highlighted some of the demographic information to draw more attention to the figures.)

By Brian Steinberg

In its heyday, "This is Your Life" was seen by a broad swath of viewers tuned into their Philcos all at once, never dreaming that someday it could be rebroadcast, paused live, accessed on another gadget, or that its entire run could be contained on a thin metal disc.

Almost 50 years later, we're almost similarly in the dark. Those Samsung flat screens in our living room might still be the go-to device, but they are fast being joined by computer monitors, laptops, gaming consoles, iPods and mobile phones distributing content once solely accessed by TV, or in some cases, content that competes with TV.

It's conceivable -- and probably inevitable -- that TV/web convergence will lead to us ordering up movies, pizza and even advertising while watching custom-tailored content and interacting with social-network buddies at the same time.

The question is how these services will work together and who will manage and monetize them in a world where the TV networks operate with a mass-media mentality and are anxious to keep $60.5 billion in ad revenue from going the way of Philco.

A host of companies are already salivating for some of the billions pumped by marketers into advertising on broadcast and cable outlets, syndicated TV programs and local-TV stations.

But there simply can't be enough money around to profitably support video on YouTube, Hulu, Xbox, Apple's iPhone and other platforms as well as on Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC and the rest.

TV dominance "is certainly up for grabs," said Bobby Tulsiani, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, "and there are a lot of hands in the cookie jar."

Fact: Traditional TV viewership is waning, while other kinds of video entertainment consumption rise. The top 20 shows on broadcast TV during the 1979-1980 TV season—including "Three's Company", "That's Incredible" and "M*A*S*H"—individually had a household rating of at least 21.7.

These days, the titans of broadcast TV—CBS's "NCIS" and NBC's "Sunday Night
Football"—notched an average household rating of 13.0 and 11.4 between
the start of the 2009-2010 TV season and Nov 1.

Total viewership for the top four broadcast networks in the current season through mid-November has slumped 42% since the same period in 1994, according to statistics provided by Brad Adgate, senior VP-research at Horizon Media. Including the CW, total viewership for the period is off about 38.5%, he said.

In the meantime, other technologies that provide access to video keep growing.

More than one in four U.S. households contained digital video recorders (31 million TV households, or 27% of the total) at the end of the first quarter of 2009, according to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mediabrands; the figure is expected to rise to almost half (51.1 million, or 42%), by 2014.

Video on demand was used in 43.1 million TV households, or 42% of 2009 TV households, and is likely to reach 66.6 million, or 64%--nearly two-thirds of households—by 2014. And these are just the TV-viewing experiences that involve the traditional living-room apparatus.

When the big screen in our living room finally converges into one that can deliver both TV and Internet content, the game will certainly change. It doesn't take too much imagining to foresee that in five to 10 years, many consumers will be able to access their online life with a TV remote, and the big screen will behave more like a touchscreen: It will know what shows we like, what music to offer us, and which social network sites and e-mail to feed us.

A realization has already begun to emerge that the TV screen is really just a monitor, said Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media, a Tampa (FL) market research consultant. "Whether it be a monitor for video games, DVD players or even a laptop computer . . . TheTV is functioning essentially as a giant window into the Internet cloud," he said.

And when content can be filtered through one big screen, those who know how to command an audience can choose to feed those consumers directly. Witness Oprah Winfrey's decision earlier this month to end her top syndicated talk show on broadcast TV, and instead develop her own 24-hour cable network.

Sports leagues and, for that matter, movie studios, could arrange to have their own channels and sell directly to the audiences they amass directly, or sell those audiences to marketers. The National Football League currently has several deals in place with broadcast and cable partners, but it also has already put its own cable network in place.

And there's little impediment for marketers to set up their own video streams constantly at the ready to pitch consumers with their latest goods, or set up interactive options that allow you to order a movie, pizza, or anything that Amazon sells with the push of a button.

Social-media sites will allow consumers to chat with friends about the shows they are watching, or direct one another to videos, movies or content to view.

Forrester's Mr. Tulsiani sees a day when TV viewers will be able to watch a show on TV for a while, then "pick it up at the same point on their PC or mobile phone." TV users will be able to use their phone to program their DVR and do so much more, analysts predict.

"The variety of content itself will just be exponentially greater, from the networks to cable to digital cable and even more . . . more content choices and the quality content will be coming from not only studios but many independent creators," Mr. Tulsiani
said.

What's To Come

This holiday season's hot new gadgets and entertainment services offer a clue to what's coming next, and who's looking to get a piece of that ad money.

Netflix selections are available for streaming on everything from Microsoft's Xbox 360 to TiVos, as well as TVs made by LG Electronics and Sony and the Roku video-streaming device. Best Buy recently took a stake in a company that produces CinemaNow, a video-downloading technology that the electronics retailer plans to make available in the goods it sells that can connect to the web. Of course, there's also Apple's TV, which could over time allow viewers to order up programming on demand.

Already, rivals are dipping their beaks into the water. At Microsoft, executives hope to see the popular Xbox evolve into "a very all-purpose media consumption device in the living room for 100 million, 200 million people," said Mark Kroese, general manager-entertainment and devices for Microsoft's advertising business group.

The gaming device also functions as a venue for watching content on-demand from Netflix, but one idea is to boost its potential to reach live audiences as well, he said.

Rather than suffering through ads that interrupt the entertainment, users can opt to explore marketers' entreaties that are part of Xbox's "home" platform, and in exchange see entertaining videos or movie trailers. "Xbox can definitely support a live TV environment," Mr. Kroese said. "Whether the business model evolves for us to do so remains to be seen."

Others are working to weave advertising into emerging viewer behavior. TV users will do more fast-forwarding, pausing and searching for content with their remotes, and advertising can surface during those interactions, said Tara Maitra, VP-general manager, content services and ad sales, TiVo.

Imagine seeing a full-motion ad pop up when you pause a show, that "may be contextual to the content: "'Your pause was brought to you by Audi,'" suggested Steve Tranter, VP-interactive and broadband, at TV-technology concern NDS. Another idea: sponsorship of fast-forwards and rewinds.

And there's lots of talk about addressable advertising, a technology that could prove destabilizing or lucrative, depending on who's doing the talking. Soon, ads for hot dogs could be dispatched to one home and ads for Pampers to another, depending on available consumer data.

Networks might charge a premium for such ad inventory because it's targeted more finely. And because multiple advertisers could appear in the same 30-second space, networks would also be able to do business with a broader range of clients.

Some of the money, however, could be up for grabs, with cable systems or even media buyers inserting themselves into the process. Media agencies have considered buying up inventory and reselling it to their marketer clients.

Experimentation has been underway for the last few years. In Huntsville (AL), Comcast worked with Publicis's Starcom MediaVest Group, sending ads from marketers such as General Motors, Discover Card, Hallmark, Kraft Foods, Mars, Miller Brewing Company and Procter & Gamble to viewers who matched up with pre-defined demographic segments.

The companies found that homes receiving addressable advertising tuned away from the commercials 38% less than homes that received non-addressable advertising. Even so, the industry has been slow to put technology in place, and web-connected TVs could render this idea obsolete.

New Way of Selling

TV networks, meanwhile, will work to retain control over the advertising that has for years bolstered their fortunes. But many TV executives acknowledge a day is coming when some of that revenue will be shared.

CBS Corp. already envisions selling ads in a somewhat new fashion: An ad might run in "CSI," the TV episode, but also in all streams of the show online for one week, suggested David Poltrack, CBS's chief research officer.

In the future, "we'll sell you 'CSI' across platforms. You will get your advertising in the episode that goes on TV that week, and you'll get your ad running in all streams of any episode of 'CSI' online for that one week," he said. "Now you're building up more of a significant amount of Internet coverage and then the same thing could apply to mobile."

At the same time, a realization has begun to set in that in an on-demand world, others will insert advertising into the process. Widgets and interactive-TV services will be able to advertise around programs in some ways, said Mr. Poltrack, but CBS will try to make the best of the situation by leveraging its ownership of the content.

"If they are adding value, they've got to get compensated for that, so it's probably a revenue-sharing project as opposed to something we would not totally control," he said. As for new-media players who "bring an enhancement and are looking for revenue-sharing models, certainly, we're open to the conversation."

New technology and the upheaval it will cause are fascinating to discuss. What's not so much fun to talk about is severity.

TV has always been an advertiser's tool of preference to reach giant audiences, goose fast-food sales, launch movie openings and push foot traffic into retail outlets. Imagine the difficulty in doing just that when ads will have to be tailored not only for specific viewers-a cooking show is quite different from an adventure drama-but also for how each of those genres is being viewed on a big screen, a mobile device, or on a DVR.

Ads, too, will have to evolve, designed more at eliciting an active response-or even indication of purchase-from an active viewer, rather than merely dazzling a couch potato. Yes, it's true: In the future, TV will survive. But mass marketing may not.

How We Watch

These days, the majority of viewers of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" watch the program when it airs on the network, Sundays at 9 p.m. But an increasing number of people have begun to watch and keep track of it in new and diverse ways.

So, yes, for instance, approximately 4.2 million households watched the ads slotted into this season's debut of "Desperate Housewives," according to Nielsen, but approximately another 700,000 watched those ads within three days of the program's original air-date, thanks to playback on a digital video recorder.

Meanwhile, the program had 217,255 Facebook fans as of Nov. 23. As technology gives rise to other means of accessing entertainment, those smaller numbers will grow more important to TV networks—and the advertisers who support them. Time-Shifted TV

Digital video recorders were in 31 million TV households, or 27% of the total, at the end of the first quarter of 2009, according to Interpublic Group's Mediabrands; the figure is expected to rise to 51.1 million, or 42%, by 2014. Video on demand was in 43.1 million TV households, or 42% of TV households at the end of the first quarter of 2009, and is likely to reach 66.6 million, or 64%, by 2014.

Look for marketers to start tailoring more of their ads to the specific programs in which they air, such as Sprint did this past season on "Desperate Housewives"—the better to entice viewers who tune in because of the show, not the network or the time the program aired live.

Mobile Video

Apple sold 7.4 million iPhones in its recently completed fourth quarter, each capable of playing video representing 7% unit growth over the year-earlier period—just one indication of the potential growth of mobile video.

Computer Screen

Nielsen says video streams online rose from more than 95.3 billion in 2008 to more than 104.3 billion between January and October of 2009. The year, of course, is not yet over. Mediabrands sees households with broadband access growing to 87.4 million households by the end of 2014, compared with 71 million households at the end of the first quarter of 2009.

Hulu

Overall streams per month at Hulu, the video-sharing site owned jointly by Walt Disney, News Corp. and NBC Universal, stood at 583.2 million in September of 2009, according to comScore Video Metrix. Overall streams at the site for the year-earlier period stood at 145.8 million.

Facebook and MySpace

Nielsen says time spent viewing video on social networking sites increased 98% year over year, from 503.8 million minutes in October 2008 to 999.4 million minutes in October 2009.
In conjunction, the number of online video streams viewed on social-networking and blog sites increased 45% year-over-year, from 240.8 million streams in October 2008 to 349.5 million in October 2009.

And Coming Soon—Streamers

A host of gadgets will start to function as ersatz set-top boxes, allowing us to find content and stream it to the screen we want. Blu-ray, Microsoft's Xbox, Roku, and Apple TV are just some of the devices that stream movies and other web-ready content, but in the future, users might just rely on them to watch TV series as well.

New Screens

This Christmas, a new category of internet-connected TV set is due out in stores from such manufacturers as Sony and Samsung. Retailer Best Buy will be including the CinemaNow service that allows users to download movies and other content through the TV they purchase. While these are likely to be aimed at early technology adopters, they mark a first step towards the ultimate goal: A TV that streams high quality content while allowing for interactivity.

June 22, 2009

You Know You Are Living in 2009 When . . .

(Ed's Note: This was floating around the Internet. I cleaned it up and added the last 3 examples to give this bit of humor some actual substance.)

1. You accidentally enter your pin on the microwave.

2. You have not played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they do not have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you did not have the first 20 to 60 years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12 You are reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no No. 9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there was not a No. 9 on this list.

16. You actually consider getting a life if you do not already have one.

17. Should you consider getting a life, you actually remember just how important it is to have friends to talk to face to face rather than cell phoning, emailing, texting or twittering.

18. You begin to realize that we live in an over-communicated world that may have speed but sorely lacks substance.

March 20, 2009

A Wake Up Call for Police

This Is What Happens When You Decide to Mess with Old People

(Ed's Note: This incident gets better every time I read it. Getting our government off dead center in time of need is not easy to do. Some old people have figured out how to help the program along.)

George Phillips of Meridian, Mississippi was going up to bed when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window.

George opened the back door to go turn off the light, but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked "Is someone in your house?" George said "No."

Then they said "All patrols are busy. You should lock your doors and an officer will be along when one is available." George said, "Okay" He hung up the phone and counted to 30. Then he phoned the police again.

George said, "Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I just shot them," and hung up.

Within five minutes, 6 police cars, a SWAT Team, a helicopter, 2 fire trucks, a paramedic, and an ambulance showed up at the Phillips' residence, and caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the Policemen said to George, "I thought you said that you shot them!"

George said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

Don't mess with old people.

Read more about how to get on and cope in this world by going to my Lessons in Life section.

June 25, 2008

Social Commentary:

Is "Black Liberation Theology" Really Helping African Americans?

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Few people who have been watching any presidential election coverage on television in recent weeks have been able to escape the so-called "out of context" messages Rev. Jeremiah Wright has delivered at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Rev. Wright, now officially retired as pastor of the church he built from apparently about 90 active members when he started in 1972 to 10,000+ members today, was passionate, righteous and full of conviction in his remarks. Many charismatic leaders deliver strong and controversial messages to their followers.

Rev. Wright, who earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the United Theological Seminary, has been a professor at theological seminaries, has been a member of the Board of Trustees at educational institutions, and is recognized as a biblical scholar in the religious community.

He apparently has spent much of his ministry staying focused on the bible, the word of God and his son Jesus Christ, and preaching "black liberation theology" to his congregation, and to all who would listen and accept his message.

Rev. Wright has sought, in his own beliefs and methods, to minister to the needs of his congregation, exhibiting a perfectly normal and natural sense about what a minister should be doing. His unexpected exposure on national television has caused umbrage with some viewers, who found his remarks to be unpatriotic, inflammatory and offensive.

One remark, in particular, may have been a lightening rod for the white community. Rev. Wright blamed "rich, white people" today for controlling and apparently suppressing the black community, and being responsible for any and all sins against the black community since they (the members of the rich, white community) have benefited most from the actions of their ancestors.

This and similar remarks have been linked by many to the "black liberation theology" Rev. Wright has studied, wrote about and preached.

It is apparent—from the televised sound bites—that the African American members of Trinity United Church of Christ are very enthusiastic in accepting Rev. Wright's message of hope for their goodwill, happiness and prosperity in America.

I take very little comfort in the fact that although I am white I am not rich. I am apparently guilty of heinous crimes and injustices committed by someone I do not even know, while there are numerous examples of extremely successful and rich black Americans who are getting on better in society than myself.

Oprah Winfrey, for example, makes more than 3,000 times the annual income that millions of African Americans do and I do. The sports and entertainment industries have thousands of examples of successful and rich blacks that have overcome whatever disadvantages and discrimination they might have encountered.

Anyone who thinks that life is fair is not paying attention. I personally have been discriminated against many times by white members of my community. I recognize that in Mexico there are Mexican factories with 100% Mexican workers who are routinely discriminated against by members of their Hispanic community.

History is full of examples of people and cultures that have been enslaved by other people and cultures. Records show us that slavery existed in Africa before the Europeans arrived. Records show us that powerful African leaders sold enslaved people for goods such as alcohol, beads and cloth.

Records show us that Britain became the world’s leading slave-trading country, that approximately 12 million Africans were enslaved in the course of the transatlantic slave trade, and that between 1640 and 1807, British ships transported approximately 3.4 million Africans across the Atlantic.

None of these records or actions excuse the reprehensible events that occurred at this time in history. All of them are reminders of how far we have come since then.

As with most things in life, I suspect that the media's characterization of Rev. Wright as a minister and man of God is hardly as unflattering as it has been portrayed. I suspect that many white Americans who treat minorities and their ethnic cultures with respect and dignity, and accept them as equals in our mutual society, are hardly as discriminatory and sinful as some would have us believe.

All of which causes me to wonder: Is "black liberation theology" really helping African Americans? Maybe it makes people feel good that they can blame others for their situation in life. I do not know or practice black liberation theology, and so I cannot speak to its effectiveness in promoting goodwill and prosperity among all peoples and cultures.

Are there other lessons to be learned in addition to "black liberation theology"?

Although I am white and not rich, I am successful, and there is one thing that I do know: when we blame others, we give up our ability to change. I also understand that if we lack the will for change, there is no one who can show us the way, not even Jesus Christ.

Read some of my Social Commentary on other hot topics, including:

"Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America – The First Is Abortion"

"So Why Should I Subsidize Any Banks Because of Their Greed and Incompetence?"

"A Disturbing Trend in Our Society – The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions"

"Washington's Hottest Political Issue Pits PI Attorneys and the Insurance Industry"

March 9, 2008

Lessons in Life

All God's Creatures Have Work To Do

(Editor's Note: We can learn a lot from stories. Jesus used parables (simple stories) to help the least educated of his followers understand his message. This clever tale from Southeast Asia teaches us the difference between first-rate work and second-rate effort. Anyone disappointed in not being promoted at your place of work would do well to read and heed the message of this story.)

Two cousins grew up side by side from the day they both entered the world. They learned to crawl and toddle together, and later how to run and swim and play ball and all the other things boys do together. They were constant and devoted friends.

But eventually they began to drift apart, as sometimes happens as even good friends move through life. One cousin took to his books, found a certain delight in learning, studied hard, and passed his exams with flying colors. The other cousin decided books weren't such good companions. He skipped school a good bit so he could continue to swim and play ball, ignored his leaders, and ended up failing his exams.

As is usually the way of the world, fortune rewarded the first cousin, who ended up becoming an adviser to the king himself. The second cousin soon found himself employed as an oarsman on his majesty's royal yacht.

One day the king and all his royal advisers embarked on a journey up the river. They sat under a wide canopy in the bow of the boat, where the breeze was best, and discussed affairs of state as the yacht moved along.

The sight of his cousin sitting at ease with royalty irked the oarsman no end.

"Look at that lazy fellow, lounging there in the shade, while I must break my back in the sun," he thought as he rowed. "What gives him the right to sit up there, any more than me? After all, aren't we both God's creatures?"

The more he thought about it, the angrier he grew.

"Look at those useless louts," he began grumbling to this fellow oarsmen. "They call themselves advisers, but all they do is sit and gab. Why should we sweat so hard to push their carcasses against the current? There's nothing fair about it. They ought to be back here rowing too. Aren't we all God's creatures?"

That evening they tied to shore to make camp. Everyone ate and fell asleep quickly.

The oarsman woke in the middle of the night to find a firm hand shaking him by the shoulder. It was the king himself.

"There's a strange noise coming from over there," he said, pointing. "I can't go to sleep from wondering what it is. Please go find out."

The oarsman jumped off the boat and ran up the hill. He came back a few minutes later.

"It's nothing, your Majesty," he said. "A cat has just given birth to a litter of noisy kittens."

"Ah, I see," said the king. "What kind of kittens?"

The oarsman had not looked to see. He ran up the hill again and came back.

"Siamese," he said.

"And how many kittens are there?" the king inquired.

Again, the oarsman had not noticed. He went back.

"Six kittens," he reported.

"How many males and how many females?" the king asked.

The oarsman ran back once again.

"Three males and three females," he cried, beginning to lose his breath.

"I see," said the king. "Come with me."

They tiptoed to the bow of the boat, where the king woke the oarsman's cousin.

"There's a strange noise up on that hill," he told him. "Go find out what it is."

The adviser disappeared into the darkness and returned in a moment.

"It is a newborn litter of kittens, Your Majesty," he said.

"What kind of kittens?" the king asked.

"Siamese," answered his adviser.

"How many?"

"Six."

"How man males and how many females?"

"Three males and three females. The mother gave birth in an overturned barrel just after we arrived. The cats belong to the mayor of the village. He hopes they have not disturbed you, and invites you to come take your pick if the court is in need of a royal pet."

The king looked at the oarsman.

"I overheard your grumbling earlier today," he said. "Yes, we are all God's creatures. But all God's creatures have work to do. I had to send you to shore four times for answers. My adviser went only once. This is why he is my adviser, and you must row the boat."

(Editor's Note: This story is part of the collection put together by William J. Bennett (Bill Bennett) in his book The Moral Compass. It has a treasure of stories celebrating life's journey. I highly recommend The Moral Compass as a great read.)

March 22, 2007

Social Commentary:

We Live in an Over Communicated World, and Now We Can Hide Behind Our Emails

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

The advent of the computer and email has been a godsend to communication and particularly small business operations.

Sending messages electronically could not be more cost effective. Both consumers and businesses save tons of money by not using the United States Postal Service to deliver mail.

We still need the postal service and other delivery carriers (UPS and FedEx) to deliver packages and printed materials, but there is no question that communication between individuals and groups has increased tremendously by email usage.

Online experts estimate that there are 700 million web sites on the Internet today, and there are millions of people who use email but do not yet have a web site. It can only be a matter of time before the vast majority of people on planet Earth become computer literate and have their own web site.

You would think that all of this usage would put a real dent in the volume at the postal service, but I doubt it. My guess is that mail volume continues to rise as the world population increases.

With email usage we communicate more than we ever have. When we add to electronic emails such modern conveyances as fax machines, pagers, text messaging and cell phones, we clearly live in an over communicated world.

Is there a teenager above poverty level left in America that does not have a cell phone, iPod or handheld computer and is constantly plugged into some device and talking, looking or listening? Just asking because it seems so.

The epitome for me was when I stopped at a red light and the couple in the vehicle next to me had both the husband and wife leaning out their side windows to get better reception while yakking on their cell phones.

The stream of communication has become much quicker and more abundant but whether it is deeper or more meaningful is another question.

My impression is no, it has not become more meaningful.

I launched a service to help people realize and achieve their potential in all areas of life, and as quickly as I launched the service I stopped it because I realized how society has changed as I have grown older.

All of this happened because of a couple of experiences that convinced me that we are not communicating as a people like we did when I was younger.

I never really advertised my new service but word gets around and a few people emailed me requesting my attention. I hit the reply button and said I would be calling them to set up a time when we could talk on the phone because they were across the country.

Their answer surprised me. They had zero interest in communicating over the phone. They wanted to email me their challenges and problems and then I could email them back with my answers and advice.

I understood immediately that as a professional writer I do not pig slop my way through email communication, and that it would take me 20 times as long to write them epistles rather than give them the same message over the phone.

I did not take them on as clients. I realized that they wanted to hide behind their email message, which unfortunately is a voiceless and faceless form of communication.

Talking to clients on the phone gives you an enormous amount of what I call field intelligence. You learn a lot when listening to their spontaneous response, the tone of their voice and their attitude surfacing in the conversation.

It occurred to me that whatever their concerns and fears were they mostly were afraid of being found out. If you think criminals do not hide behind emails you are terribly naive and misguided.

When you deal with me you are either open, honest and somewhat transparent or you will not be dealing with me very long as your coach, mentor, confidant, consultant or whatever else you want to call me.

In all of my reading I have not read what I am sharing with you here: that some people are choosing to hide behind emails rather than communicate more effectively in person or at least over the phone.

If I were to coin a phrase to describe them, it would be "email phantoms" as you do not hear them or see them. They communicate only in an electronic world.

If you do not relate to my observation that some individuals are hiding behind emails, you will relate to this: You have a new computer that breaks down and you try to call the company, but they only solve technical problems through live text messaging online (a form of electronic emails).

The only company that can help you does not accept correspondence, and they do not accept phone calls, even if you are willing to pay the charges. You must correspond by email or not at all.

The perfect example of this is amazon.com; you do not, repeat, do not, write or call amazon.com. Period. Even if you are a vendor rather than a consumer; I know as I have an account with them.

And while I am extolling the wisdom of phone conversation over email transmissions let me launch another social observation: some people are no longer answering their phone when they are able to do so.

You heard me right. Here is their routine:

Someone calls you, leaves a message and asks you to call them. I call them on their land line that evening after work, and no one answers so I leave a message, and now we begin to play phone tag.

Then I immediately call them on their cell phone because I am trusted and one of the few people who have their cell phone number, and they immediately answer. They were home but chose not to answer their land line.

The point is they never answer the phone anymore. Later, when the mood strikes them and they reassure themselves they are totally in control and want to call back they do. In other words, common courtesy and respect for my time are missing.

It is almost as if they feel no need to answer a phone ever again unless it is in their work environment.

I always answer the phone when it rings, even if it is a loathsome telemarketer calling me when my number has supposedly been taken off their call list.

Young adults and professionals perceive themselves as very important which may explain why many of them spend more time talking than listening.

Need I say it? Smart, successful, competent people spend far more time listening than talking.

Self-Improvement:

January 15, 2011

Word Play

It's All About Neologisms. You Don't Know? Well, Read and Learn Some Clever Language

(Ed's Note: Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.)

The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulance (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men..

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n..): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

November 25, 2010

Are You Feeling Just a Little Self-Righteous?

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

'And why's everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
At the thought of seeing you.'

October 30, 2010

There Are No Trick Questions

Brain Food to Test Your Knowledge

This is a quiz for people who know everything! Or think they know everything.

1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.

2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?

4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?

6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters ' dw' and they are all common words. Name two of them.

7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?

8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.

9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter 'S.'

Scroll all the way down to the end of this panel for the answers. No cheating. The Internet police are watching you, and, besides, your honor is at stake.

Answers to the Brain Food questions:

1. The one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends: Boxing.

2. North American landmark constantly moving backward: Niagara Falls. The rim is worn down about 2.5 feet every year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.

3. Only two vegetables that can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons: Asparagus and rhubarb.

4. The fruit with its seeds on the outside: Strawberry.

5. How did the pear get inside the brandy bottle? It grew inside the bottle. The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small, and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the entire growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.

6. Three English words beginning with dw: Dwarf, dwell and dwindle.

7. Fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar: Period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation mark, brackets, parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.

8. The only vegetable or fruit never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh: Lettuce.

9. Six or more things you can wear on your feet beginning with 'S': Shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, stilts.

October 10, 2010

Be Accountable – No Cheating

Can You Solve This Really Difficult Puzzle?

(Ed's Note: I could not figure it out. My first thought was a true observation, but was not the correct answer. After further analysis, I still was stumped. I had to look at the answer.)

See if you can figure out what these 7 words all have in common?

1. banana

2. dresser

3. grammar

4. potato

5. revive

6. uneven

7. assess

Are you peeking or have you already given up? Give it another try. Look at each word carefully. You'll kick yourself when you discover the answer. This is so cool.

No, it is not that they all have at least 2 double letters.

Let me know if you found the answer - I didn't!

For the answer, scroll all the way to the bottom of this panel.

August 19, 2010

Managing Your Life

It Is Not About the Stress in Your Life, But Rather How Long You Hold Onto It

A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, 'How heavy is this glass of water?'

Answers called out from his audience, ranging from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, 'The absolute weight does not matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that is not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I will have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance. In each case, it is the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.'

He continued, 'And that is the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we will not be able to carry on.

'As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we are refreshed, we can carry on with the burden. So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Do not carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow.

'Whatever burdens you are carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can.'

So, my friend, put down anything that may be a burden to you right now. Do not pick it up again until after you have rested a while.

Here are 17 great thoughts on dealing with the burdens in your life:

1. Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

2. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3. Always wear stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4. Drive carefully, it is not only cars that can be "recalled" by their maker.

5. If you cannot be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.

8. Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you will not have a leg to stand on.

9. Nobody cares if you cannot dance well. Just get up and dance.

10. Since it is the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

11. The second mouse gets the cheese.

12. When everything is going your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

13. Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you will live.

14. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

15. Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

16. We can learn a lot from crayons, some are sharp, some are pretty, and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

17. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

And always remember that what lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. Be good to yourself, and think well of yourself.

(Ed's Note: Sylvia Sukop is a writer, photographer and first-person journalist based in Los Angeles. This essay is an excerpt from her memoir, Difficult Light. In 2009 Sukop received the PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellowship and co-founded MMIX Los Angeles Writers. A portion of "Early Harvest" originally appeared in Strange Cargo: A PEN Emerging Voices Anthology (2010).

August 13, 2010 - 2nd Article

It Happened on "Oprah"

Some Sage Advice From American Poet Maya Angelou

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older. And, there on television, she said it was 'exciting...'

Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every day......like her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou also said this:

'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.'

'I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.'

'I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.'

'I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a life.'

'I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.'

'I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back...'

'I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.'

'I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.'

'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back....'

'I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.'

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

July 10, 2010

Here's How

Don't Fall for These 6 Happiness Myths - Learn How to Overcome Them

(Ed's Note: This article originally appeared as a post in WebMD.com.)

By Annie Stuart

If you'd like to be happier -- who wouldn't? -- the first step may be to challenge your own views about happiness.

Maybe you think that to be happier, you need more than you have now – more freedom, more money, more love . . . fill in the blank. Or maybe you've convinced yourself that this is as good as it gets.

Such beliefs may be more myth than fact. Although a myth usually contains a kernel of truth, it can also sprout and grow, spreading seeds of doubt that can ultimately crowd out your own growth.

Here are 6 common myths about happiness that may actually be downsizing your happiness. The truth may set you free for a happier life, starting right now.

Happiness Myth No. 1: Either you have it or you don't.

Say you have two kids you've raised just the same, but they have opposite personalities -- one sour, the other sunny. This makes it hard to dispute the fact that genes play a powerful role in each person's happiness. There's evidence that genetics contributes to about 50% of your happiness set point.

But that's a far cry from 100%, says Sonja Lyubormirsky, PhD, author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want and professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

"If you do the work, research shows you can become happier, no matter what your set point is," Lyubomirsky says. "You probably won't go from a one to a 10, but you can become happier. It just takes commitment and effort, as with any meaningful goal in life."

Not only can you become happier, but it gets easier over time, she says. Do
you want to work on nurturing relationships, writing in a gratitude journal, committing random acts of kindness, or developing a program of morning meditation or exercise? Changes like these -- proven methods for enhancing happiness -- can become habits after a while, which means they eventually take less effort.

Happiness Myth No. 2: Happiness is a destination.

Many people think of happiness as a destination or acquisition – whether it's marriage, money, or a move to a new location. Sure, things like these can contribute to happiness, but not as much as you might think -- only about 10% of your whole happiness picture, Lyubomirsky says.

If you've done the math, you now realize that about 40% of your happiness is in your hands. Lasting happiness has more to do with how you behave and think, which you ultimately control more than many of life's circumstances.

Robert Biswas-Diener, MS, founder of Meridian Life Coaching LLC and co-author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, agrees.

"Happiness isn't the emotional finish line in the race of life," he says. It's a process and a resource. Biswas-Diener says there's a mountain of data showing that when people are happier, they become healthier and more curious, sociable, helpful, creative, and willing to try new things.

"Happiness is not just an emotional flight of fancy," he says. It's beneficial for the long run, serving a real function in our lives.

In psychological lingo, this is called the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, says Michael A. Cohn, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher with the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Cohn recently conducted a study with 86 college students who submitted daily emotion reports. The researchers measured the students' ability to flexibly respond to challenging and shifting circumstances and used a scale to assess life satisfaction.

The study showed that positive emotions increased resilience -- skills for identifying opportunities and bouncing back from adversity -- as well as life satisfaction.

Happiness Myth No. 3: You always adapt to your happiness set point.

It's true that people tend to adapt fairly quickly to positive changes in their lives, Lyubomirsky says. In fact, adaptation is one of the big obstacles to becoming happier. The long-awaited house, the new car, the prestigious job -- all can bring a temporary boost, but then recede into the background over time.

Why does this happen? One reason, Lyubomirsky says, is that we evolved to pay more attention to novelty. For our ancestors, novelty signaled either danger or opportunity -- for a new mate or food, for example.

We're attuned to contrasts, not sameness, but that also means we readily adapt to positive experiences that happen to us, Lyubomirsky says.

"I argue that you can thwart adaptation, slow it down, or prevent it with active ways of thinking or behaving," says Lyubomirsky, who after moving to Santa Monica, Calif., found herself adapting to her beautiful surroundings. To counteract this trend, she put effort into appreciating the view she saw when running on a path overlooking the ocean. She says she now savors that view daily, trying to see it "through the eyes of a tourist."

To help thwart adaptation, you can also use novelty to your advantage. For instance, if your home has become a little ho-hum, you might try rearranging furniture or hosting parties for a variety of friends. Voluntary activities like these are most effective because they require you to pay attention, Lyubomirsky notes.

Happiness Myth No. 4: Negative emotions always outweigh the positive ones.

For quite some time, research has indicated that negative emotions are more powerful than positive ones, Cohn says. For example, studies show that people don't have equal reactions to winning $3 and losing $3, he says. The loss tends to have a stronger effect than the gain.

Negative emotions might edge out positive emotions in the moment, says Cohn, because they're telling you to find a problem and fix it. By contrast, positive emotions appear to win out over time because they let you build on what you have, a finding reinforced by Cohn's recent study.

"We found that as positive emotions go up, there comes a point where negative emotions no longer have a significant negative impact on building resources or changing life satisfaction," Cohn says.

"Positive emotions won't protect you from feeling bad about things, nor should they. But over time, they can protect you from the consequences of negative emotions."

This may not be true for people with depression or other serious disorders, although they do show benefits when positive emotions are added to conventional psychotherapy, Cohn notes.

Happiness Myth No. 5: Happiness is all about hedonism.

There's more to happiness than racking up pleasurable experiences. In fact, helping others -- the opposite of hedonism -- may be the most direct route to happiness, notes Stephen G. Post, PhD, co-author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People: The Exciting New Research That Proves the Link Between Doing Good and Living a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life.

"When people help others through formal volunteering or generous actions, about half report feeling a 'helper's high' and 13% even experience alleviation of aches and pains," says Post, professor of preventive medicine and director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y.

"For most people, a pretty low threshold of activity practiced well makes a difference," Post says. This might involve volunteering just one or two hours each week or doing five generous things weekly -- practices that are above and beyond what you normally do.

First documented in the 1990s, mood elevation from helping is associated with a release of serotonin, endorphins - the body's natural opiates – and oxytocin, a "compassion hormone" that reinforces even more helping behavior, Post says.

Could compassion be rooted in our neurobiology? A National Academy of Sciences 2006 study showed that simply thinking about contributing to a charity of choice activates a part of the brain called the mesolimbic pathway, the brain's reward center, which is associated with feelings of joy.

"Although just thinking about giving or writing a check can increase our levels of happiness, face-to-face interactions seem to have a higher impact," Post says. "I think that's because they engage the [brain's] agents of giving more fully through tone of voice, facial expression, and the whole body."

Happiness Myth No. 6: One size fits all.

If you're seeking a magic bullet or mystical elixir to enhance your happiness, you're bound to be sorely disappointed. There is no "one size fits all" for happiness.

Instead, there are many ways to boost your happiness. Here are options to try:

Pick an activity that is meaningful to you, Cohn says.

Whether you choose an activity that promotes a sense of gratitude, connectedness, forgiveness, or optimism, you'll be most successful if your choices are personally relevant to you. And, he adds, this may also keep you from adapting to them too quickly.

Assess your strengths and develop practices that best use these gifts, Post suggests.

Are you a good cook? Deliver a meal to a shut-in. A retired teacher? Consider tutoring a child. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Vary your activities, because promoting happiness is largely a question of finding a good fit, Lyubomirsky says.

To that end, she helped Signal Patterns develop a "Live Happy" iPhone application that starts with a short survey to identify the happiness strategies that you're suited to, such as journaling or calling someone to express gratitude. "You can lose your will [to do those activities] if it's not a good fit," Lyubomirsky says.

And when it comes to happiness, maintaining your will -- and acting on it -- might just put a pleasurable, meaningful life well within reach.

June 26, 2010

Here Are 4 Things You Cannot Recover

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

1) The word, after it's spoken.

2) The time, after it's gone.

3) The stone, after it's thrown.

4) The occasion, after it's over.

Speak cautiously, and timely, before you throw stones, and don't be late.

June 21, 2010

Gratitude May Well Be Your Absolute Best Trait in Life

(Ed's Note: People who have a great sense of gratitude in life tend to live longer, live easier, and enjoy life more. Sometimes the rush of life causes us to not even be thankful for what we have, and you recognize that time and tide wait for no man.)

How do you measure value? Here is one way:

To realize
The value of a sister/brother
Ask someone
Who does not have one.

To realize
The value of 10 years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of 4 years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of 1 year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of 9 months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

To realize
The value of 1 month:
Ask a mother
Who has given birth to
A premature baby.

To realize
The value of 1 week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of 1 minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed a train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of 1 second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have.

You will treasure it even more when
You can share it with someone special.

Do it now.

June 4, 2010

Good, Sound Advice

Try to Not Judge Others and Change Others, and You Will Be Much More Happy

(Ed's Note: This guest article comes from Deepak Chopra, one of the most famous physicians and authors on planet Earth. Chopra is big on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality and peace.)

By Deepak Chopra

Most people are trapped trying to impose their viewpoint on the world. They carry around beliefs about what is right and wrong, and they hold on to these beliefs for years. "I am right" brings comfort, but not true happiness.

The people you feel wronged by will never apologize and make your wounds and grievances go away. The people you judge against will remain isolated from you. No one has ever been made happy by proving that they are right. The only result is conflict and confrontation, because the need to be right always makes someone else wrong.

There is no such thing as one and only one correct perspective. Right is whatever conforms to your perception. You see the world as you are. Others see the world as they are, too.

This insight is tremendously liberating because, first of all, it makes you unique. Ultimately it makes you a co-creator with God. For as your consciousness expands, so does reality. Tremendous hidden potential is revealed.

The opposite happens if you insist upon being right. Because others will disagree, your need to be right will generate antagonism and rejection.

If the world is a mirror of who you are, it is always reflecting a point of view. Objectivity is an illusion of the ego, created to bolster its insistence that what it sees is right.

It's tragic that people sacrifice the real goal of life, which is increasing joy and happiness, for the cold comfort of judging others and feeling superior to them. If you see the world with judgment instead of love, that's the world you will inhabit.

April 28, 2010

When the Junk Piles Up

Three Questions Will Help You Decide If You Are a Harmless Pack Rat or a Compulsive Hoarder

(Ed's Note: The following guest article by Kathleen Doheny was first posted on the WebMD web site, an outstanding source for medical knowledge, insight and advice.)

By Kathleen Doheny

For most people, the junk mail that clogs the mailbox and piles up around the house is simply an annoyance -- something to go through and trash when time permits.

For Paula Kotakis of San Francisco, however, every scrap of mail – from advertising circulars to election booklets debating the latest political initiatives -- represents potentially valuable information too precious to discard.

Her compulsion to hang on to all that information began in college and eventually took its toll.

"I had five-foot-high stacks of newspapers in the living room that were decades old," says Kotakis, 49, who works as a night guard at a fine arts museum in the city. "I had every bit of election material. I kept all my school notes, every single college notebook."

Loved ones who lived with her -- including her husband and her father – were frustrated. Still, she couldn't bear to clean the clutter.

Most of us hold on to things we don't need -- stacks of old magazines we think we'll read someday, piles of receipts we never find time to clean out, a favorite shirt or dress we hope will come back into style.

So how do you know when your "collecting" or being a "harmless pack rat" becomes "hoarding" and is interfering with your life, your job, and your relationships?

Here are three questions to answer honestly to see if you've crossed the line, and what to do if you have.

1) Do you like the feeling of acquiring things -- no matter if they are expensive or free -- and do you have difficulty discarding objects no longer of use to you, objects that others may throw away easily?

Hoarders love to acquire things, says Randy Frost, PhD, Israel professor of psychology at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and a veteran researcher on hoarding. Whether they buy the objects or get them for free doesn't typically matter, he says; all objects are treasured.

The objects may appear to have limited or no value to others, adds Sanjaya Saxena, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla, another expert on hoarding behavior.

For instance, a hoarder may have newspaper clippings from decades ago that don't involve them or anyone they know; yet they hesitate to discard them because they feel they may need them someday, or someone else might.

The reasons hoarders give for needing to hold on to the materials vary, Frost says. "It might include being sentimentally attached or having a sense that the article has utility and you don't want to waste it."

2) Are your living or working spaces so cluttered that it's difficult to find things or to use the spaces for their intended purposes?

If your "collections" have gotten that extensive, Frost and Saxena agree, chances are you have a hoarding problem.

3) Is your "collecting" of objects interfering with everyday functioning or your relationships, causing your loved ones distress?

Conditions can become so bad, Saxena says, that hoarders can't ask people over socially to the house -- it's simply too cluttered and they're embarrassed.

"Or they can't have repairmen over," he says. "I've known people whose heaters aren't working, and they are living in the cold," he says, because there is too much junk in front of the heater to allow the technician access.

Spouses and partners and other family members of hoarders can become understandably distressed -- and become puzzled as to why their loved one can't comply with their request to clean up and throw out.

Your Results

If you answered yes to all three questions, those are the three criteria experts use to describe compulsive hoarding, Frost and Saxena tell WebMD.

Take heart: you're not alone, and experts say treatment is effective with continued effort.

Hoarding -- The Statistics

Because many people who have a hoarding problem live alone -- and don't entertain -- it's difficult to estimate how many are affected, Frost and Saxena say.

But a ballpark figure is that about 2 million Americans have a hoarding problem, Saxena says. "What we find is, anytime we advertise [for subjects for a hoarding study], people come out of the woodwork," he says.

More women than men tend to come in for treatment, Saxena says, but it's not clear if women are more often affected or more likely to seek help.

Hoarding -- The Back Story

After years of study, Frost and Saxena have some surprising discoveries about hoarders. Experts used to think hoarding was simply a subtype of obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD, but now most say it's not that simple.

Hoarding is also seen in those with generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, Frost says. And it can be related to social phobia, Frost says. "When people hoard, they have to learn how to hide their environment," he says. "They worry about criticisms people will make. If you do that for a number of years, you might become socially phobic.

"We're beginning to think hoarding is a separate problem related to OCD but also to GAD and social phobia," Frost says.

Profile of a Hoarder

At first glance, hoarders may be viewed as unkempt, uncaring slobs. Not the case, say Saxena and Frost. They describe some traits that may be surprising:

An urge to acquire. Some hoarders may be shoppers; others masters of finding freebies or near-freebies, from coupons to garage-sale bargains. For some, the "stuff" gives them comfort. Others may form emotional attachments to the items.

Perfectionism. "It doesn't seem to fit at first," Frost says. But consider the thinking pattern of a typical hoarder: When faced with a pile of stuff, the first thought in deciding to clear it out, Frost says, is often this: "If I throw this away, I might be making a mistake."

Saxena agrees, saying that hoarders often tell him: "I can't do any task unless I do it perfectly." Faced with towering stacks of newspapers, for instance, they think there is no way they can do an outstanding job -- so they don't even start.

Indecision and avoidance. Hoarders also tend to have trouble making decisions -- to throw it out or not? -- and so the clutter accumulates. Suppose an empty shoe box is found in the midst of closet cleaning. A non-hoarder may dump it without thinking twice, reasoning that the shoes, if they even still have them, are on a shoe rack or on the closet floor.

But Frost finds a hoarder's thinking process often is different. A hoarder might think: "But it could hold something else. Maybe I should save it for bills." Then indecision may creep in. "Maybe my bills won't fit," the hoarder may think. More indecision. "My cousin does a lot of eBay business and he needs boxes, so I better save it." Saxena says, "Saving stuff is an avoidance behavior. You don't need to decide whether to throw it away."

A sense of responsibility. Some hoarders loathe to waste anything and feel guilty about throwing things away. They feel like a bad person, they often tell Frost, if they are wasteful.

For others, including Paula Kotakis, a sense of responsibility can keep them in cluttered surroundings. Why does she tend to hold on to printed materials? "Someone might need this information someday," she says was her rationale. "And I'm responsible for providing it."

Inside a Hoarder's Brain

When Saxena examined the brains of compulsive hoarders with positron emission tomography (PET), he found lower than normal activity in the anterior cingulate cortex. That area is associated with such tasks as focused attention and decision making -- perhaps explaining the inability to decide what to throw out and to stay on a clean-up task.

He suspects structural problems in the brain may also play a role and is researching that possibility.

Helping Hoarders Let Go

What can help hoarders let go? Cognitive behavioral therapy, in which they are taught how to change their behaviors, prescription medication, or both.

Behavioral therapy focuses on, among other issues, tolerating the urge to acquire without acting on it, Frost says. A hoarder might be driven by a store, but not allowed to shop. Next, the patient and therapist go back to the store and go in, but still do not shop.

"Then we eventually have them go up and look at what they want to buy and walk away without it." The message, he says, is not that they should never buy or acquire, but that they must learn to walk away sometimes.

Frost also encourages hoarders to change harmful beliefs about themselves. Slowly, he helps them accept that they are not horrible people if they throw away something they no longer need.

In a study, Frost and his colleagues found that 26 sessions of behavioral therapy, including home visits, over a seven- to 12-month period helped half of the 10 hoarders who completed the program become "much improved" or "very much improved."

Besides behavioral therapy, medication often used for OCD patients can help, Saxena says. Those include Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.

Paula Kotakis participated in therapy and launched an online network, inviting other hoarders to join so they could help each other. Slowly, she went through the stacks in her house and cleaned. Her clutter is under control.

While some people who have overcome the problem consider themselves "graduated" or "cured" because their clutter is gone, she thinks that attitude can be dangerous.

Of her tendency to hang on to all things printed, she says, "I will have to watch it forever."

January 26, 2010

Here Is Some Down Home Advice for Living the Rest of Your Life

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

Do you know what the cheapest commodity in the world is? Well, it's advice. Everyone seems to have an opinion; if you don't think so, just ask them. Here is some advice about how to live your life. Some of the advice is thoughtful, some sensible and some humorous. Live life and enjoy these suggestions.

On Health:

Drink plenty of water, it has no calories and 30% of all of the calories you take in are the liquids you drink. Will you lose weight? I don't know if you will, but you definitely will not gain weight drinking water.

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.

Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in plants. Eat apples from the tree and lettuce from the ground, and skip all processed food with the added chemicals for color, preservation and added texture.

Live with the 3 E's—Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.

Make time to pray—it's good for your heart and soul, besides, God listens.

Play more games—have and do adult responsibilities, but play like a child.

Sleep for at least 7 hours (I prefer 9), after all that fun your body needs rest.

Read more books, there is much to learn and it is cheap entertainment.

Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes every day. Sometimes the best company is no company. When your mind is controlled and still, what remains is your soul. Get in touch, and stay in touch, with your soul. A smart man once said, "All of the problems in the world could be solved if a man were left alone in a silent room for 2 hours." (I wish I was the first man to have said that.)

Walk every day for 30 minutes, and while you walk, smile—inform your face that you are happy.

On Personality:

Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about, besides, there will always be people who are greater and lesser than you.

Don't have negative thoughts or obsess about things you cannot change or control—focus on the things you can control. Instead of worrying, invest your energy in every positive experience. Live in the moment—yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not yet arrived.

Don't over do, know and respect your limitations. Clint Eastwood's movie character said, "A man's got to know his limitations." Man, was he right.

Don't take yourself too seriously; after all, no one else does—they have their own problems and issues to resolve.

Don't waste your precious energy on gossip because what you give out is what you will eventually receive. If you want love and acceptance, give out love and acceptance. If your life is about hate, envy and holding grudges, you will have a bad end time—this is guaranteed, it is axiomatic, as night follows day. Some people call this karma. I call it "you better pay attention."

Dream more while you are awake because there is more probability that your dreams will come true—act as if your dreams will happen and maybe they will. Dreams while you are sleeping require action to become a reality.

Realize that envy is a waste of time, it is better to show gratitude for the gifts you have already received.

Forget issues of the past. Forgive those who have wronged you; it you do not, it may ruin your present happiness. Besides, if you will not forgive another person—no matter how close they have been to you—who will forgive you?

Life is too short to waste your time hating people. Hating people is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. Hate will ultimately hurt you more than the person you hate. Give yourself a rest from being hateful and vitriolic—it's negative, tiresome and unhealthy.

Make peace with your past so it does not spoil your present and future life.

Remember that no one is in charge of your happiness but you. If you are not a happy person, look in the mirror and see who is really the source of your unhappiness. Abraham Lincoln said, "People are about as happy as they make up their mind to be." Well done, Abe, I could not have said it better myself.

Realize that life is not a resting place, it is a testing place. You will always encounter unexpected negatives and challenges. Learn to deal with them or be destroyed by them. If your life is not exactly as you want it to be, change. I know change is difficult because it forces you to examine and change your thought process and belief system, but understand this: when you blame others, you give up your ability to change—that makes you helpless and dependent upon your government and others. Don't be a slave to your stupidity. Get over yourself, and change for a better life.

Life is a learning process. Be careful about what you learn because after the lessons are taught and the experience is over, what you learn or did not learn will last a lifetime and totally affect your future happiness, well being, standards and material blessings. (You may need to read that again about 10 times for it to sink in and for you to apply the lesson.)

Smile and laugh because it is more fun and life is short. Be happy because it does not cost anything to be happy, or enjoy a sunset, or enjoy the wonder that surrounds us.

Do not allow people to set your standards. If you do, they will set the bar so low you will trip crossing the room. When you have standards, and set your own standards, your standards will far exceed those that others would have set for you. Do not follow the crowd because you crave love, acceptance and approval—follow your own heart and focus on how you want to live your life to the fullest.

On Society:

Call your family and friends often. Tell your family and friends you love them and care about them, and then show them your love and affection. We cannot get enough positive energy in this life because we are surrounded by too much negative energy. Positive energy is always better because it is grounded in love, and love conquers all things.

When someone reaches out to you for forgiveness, forgive him or her. When someone reaches out to you for acceptance, accept him or her. Ralph Walled Emerson said, "It is never too soon to do a kindness, for you never know when too soon will be too late." Profound words from a very wise and sensitive man.

Spend more time with people over 70 and under the age of 6. I promise you that if you do not spend more time with your grandparents and children in their infancy, you will regret it later in life. You will miss your grandparents more than ever when they are gone, and your children will not come back to visit you as often if you do not spend more time with them at an impressionable age.

The sooner you realize that you have been put here to serve others the better your life will become. There is no reward in being self-centered rather than other-centered. You can acquire money at the expense of others, you can acquire fame if you have good looks and talent, you can climb the corporate ladder if you step on people to get ahead, but nobody will spend time with you when your money evaporates with the stock market, your looks fade, your talent is expended, and you retire or are fired. People will consciously avoid you because you lack values, morals and ethics. They would rather spend time with their dog.

Make it your mission in life to lift someone up every day by smiling, helping, accepting, believing, loving and caring. Open doors for people, help them cross a dangerous street, empathize with their loss and sorrows, lead them to a higher power so they might live again in peace with themselves and their future.

What other people think of you is none of your business; the most important thing is what you think about yourself. Remember also that the most important conversation going on around you on the outside is the one you are having with yourself on the inside.

Your job will not take care of you when you are sick or laid off—your family and fiends will. Stay in touch, and treat everyone—not just your family and friends—with love, acceptance and approval. They may need you, and you may need them on the QT.

On Life:

Do the right thing, always. Always make your decisions in life—big and small—with right thinking and right motives. That means that you are going to have to be just as much other-centered as self-centered, if not more so. But you will maintain your integrity, sleep well at night, and never have anything to cover up or apologize for.

Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

Do not be confused about God and his place in your life. God heals everything. If He created the world and you, He most certainly can give you the healing you need. Trust in the Lord in all things, and lean not unto your own understanding.

Realize that no matter how good or bad a situation is, it will change. Change in life is inevitable, so be prepared to adjust to change and make the best of it, and your situation.

No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up ready to take care of your opportunities and responsibilities. Step up and do what you should. Man up and woman up. Be responsible, accountable, reliable and productive. When you screw up, fess up. Do not blame others. Admit your mistakes. When you say "I'm sorry" mean it.

When you wake up in the morning, thank God for another day. Do not be assumptive about your future existence. A little gratitude in life will take you farther than conducting your life as if there is no God.

Remember that the best in life has not yet happened. If things are not gong your way, you can in large measure guide yourself to better life by changing your attitude, personality, sense of duty, discretion, judgment and effort.

January 23, 2010

Clear the Clutter Out of Your Life

How to Organize and Simplify Your Life for Better Emotional Health

(Ed's Note: This WebMD feature by Jennifer Nelson tells why it is a good idea to organize and simplify your life for better emotional health.)

By Jennifer Nelson

Simi Nwogugu of Brooklyn, New York, felt that her life was filled with clutter. Her drawers were filled with old notes and books from business school and years of paid bills. Toys that her sons had outgrown still littered the house. In fact, she felt so mentally cluttered that she couldn't do the one thing she wanted: write.

To get out from under the clutter, the founder of HOD Consulting rented an expensive New York City office. Problem was, the clutter followed her. Finally, she stopped trying to escape clutter and began to organize it.

"I know where everything is and it is so much more pleasing to work from home. Most of all, I am writing again," she says. Even her aching back and shoulders feel better.

When you can't find things, you can feel frustrated, angry, and unproductive, says Kelli Ellis, an Orange County, Calif., design psychologist who's appeared on TLC's Clean Sweep television show. "You see that person who has papers flying out of files, or you see their handbag, and you say, 'I know exactly what your car looks like or what your home office looks like.'" Clutter spills over into every aspect of life.

Clutter, both mental and physical, can do a number on our productivity and eat away at our time. Think of all the minutes we waste looking for items that aren't where they should be. Plus the sheer stress of a cluttered life means we may miss deadlines, work longer hours, and lose important stuff. Clutter equals stress. Where to start simplifying?

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Clutter

Between a zillion to-dos, work and family life, errant worries, and obligations, it's no wonder you have a cluttered mind. Start by learning to let go.

"To be truly happy, sometimes you must eliminate unhealthy people and situations from your life," says Alex Lluch, author of Secrets to Love Life and Be Happy. For instance, if you feel stuck in a dead-end job, resolve to make a change.

Or if there's someone in your life who constantly brings you down with a negative attitude, find a way to disentangle yourself. "It may take some courage to eliminate this stuff from your life, but you will feel much more fulfilled once you are able to concentrate on the people and things that do make you happy."

Lluch advocates clean sweeping your thoughts with a hot bath, a meditation practice, a long walk, a phone call to a friend—whatever works for you. Spend at least 15 minutes a day in a pursuit that allows you to decompress, clear your mind, and rid your thoughts of the mental chitchat that clouds your creativity, passion, and productivity.

De-Clutter Your Desk and Work Space

Whether you work from a home office or a tiny cubicle, there's no way you can be totally productive in a space that doesn't function for you. "I have never actually met anybody who is extremely successful who works in absolute chaos," says Ellis.

Sure, everyone has a junk drawer or a messy desk on occasion, but if your clutter is taking over, it's time to scale back.

When Nwogugu tackled her home office with a very organized friend, they compiled three separate stashes: what to keep, what to shred (sensitive information), and what to just throw away.

Follow a similar routine working from desk to files to shelves. Clear everything off and sort into appropriate stacks. Use file folders, three-ring notebooks, or magazine sorters to hold important papers. And immediately pitch what you don't need. Get creative with containers. Coffee mugs and decorative boxes hold everything from paper clips and tacks to business cards and pens.

Look toward vertical wall space as a new storage solution. "We tend to make piles," says Ellis. But piles are hard to address and papers within them become hidden. You can't pay a bill or return an important message if it's hidden at the bottom of a stack on your desk.

Instead, option wall space. Set bills in a hanging bin, keys on a hook, magazines in wall hangers. Now you can see and reach items easily.

Clean Out Clothing Skeletons in Your Cluttered Closet

If closets are your nemesis and yours could rival Vogue's accessory closet, you'll need to spend some time getting down and dirty. The first step to cleaning a closet is to take everything out. Then you can see what you have. Often you'll need to purchase storage boxes or organizing bins, shoe holders, or shelving. Don't forget plastic garbage bags for trash and donations. Have a few bins or boxes for items that don't really belong in
the closet but will be moved elsewhere. Be realistic. Do you really need or want each item?

Ellis' mantra is, "If you haven't seen it, needed it, or worn it in one year, get rid of it."

Nwogugu's friend had three questions when they came to every piece of clothing: Does it fit? Have you worn it in the last 12 months? Is there some sentimental value strong enough to keep it? If the answers are no, toss it in one of three options -- in a bag for charity, to sell at a garage sale or on eBay, or for the trash heap.

Nwogugu went through the same procedure for her husband's clothes and shoes as well as her children's. "By the time we were done with clothing, we had over 15 hefty trash bags of stuff for Salvation Army."

Organization Tips for Your Clutter-Free Action Plan

Here are more steps to help you clear clutter from your life:

Organize in bite-size bits:If the thought of getting organized completely overwhelms you, set a timer for just 15 minutes a day. Knowing you won't spend hours working on an organizational project might make working in small nuggets easier to manage.

Mainstream email: Instead of checking email with each ding of the inbox, read your emails on a regular basis only twice a day. When you open an email, answer it immediately and don't save it for later.

Handle snail mail only once: Create a special time and place to read your snail mail regularly. During the appointed time, open the mail and immediately take action on it. File it with bills, shred it, toss it in the trash, etc. Commit to touching each piece of mail immediately and only once.

Avoid horizontal piles: When possible, avoid putting paper in horizontal stacks in your home or office. Save time and frustration by categorizing and finding a home for paper as soon as it comes through the door.

Purge regularly:This applies to every room in the house but don't forget the kitchen and bathroom. Check expiration dates regularly on medicines, vitamins, supplements, and cosmetics. Stick to the "when in doubt, throw it out" rule. If you can't remember when you purchased it, let it go.

The first day after Nwogugu de-cluttered she walked around her apartment, remembering why she loved it. She no longer felt the need to escape. She looked forward to writing. "All around, I feel much better," she says.

December 19, 2009 – 3rd Article

Lessons in Life

A Grandson Learns From His Grandfather Why Hate Is Self-Destructive

(Ed's Note: The following story teaches an important lesson in life about attitude. If you show me a person with a bad attitude, I will show you a person with a bad personality. If you show me a person with a good attitude, I will show you a person with a good personality. In other words, attitude drives personality. In this story, you can learn why.)

There was a grandfather, and his little grandson often came in the evenings to sit at his knee and ask the many questions that children ask. One day the grandson came to his grandfather with a look of anger on his face.

"Come, sit, tell me what has happened today," the grandfather said.

The child sat and leaned his chin on his grandfather's knee. Looking up into the wrinkled, nut brown face and the kind dark eyes, the child's anger turned to quiet tears.

The boy said, "I went to the town today with my father, to trade the furs he has collected over the past several months. I was happy to go, because father said that since I had helped him with the trapping, I could get something for me. Something that I wanted.

"I was so excited to be in the trading post, I had not been there before. I looked at many things and finally found a metal knife! It was small, but good size for me, so father got it for me."

Here the boy laid his head against his grandfather's knee and became silent.

The grandfather softly placed his hand on the boy's raven hair and said, "and then what happened?"

Without lifting his head, the boy said, "I went outside to wait for father, and to admire my new knife in the sunlight. Some town boys came by and saw me; they got all around me and started saying bad things.

"They called me dirty and stupid, and said that I should not have such a fine knife. The largest of these boys pushed me back and I fell over one of the other boys. I dropped my knife and one of them snatched it up and they all ran away, laughing."

Here the boy's anger returned, "I hate them, I hate them all."

The grandfather, with eyes that have seen too much, lifted his grandson's face so his eyes looked into the boys.

Grandfather said, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.

"It is as if there are two wolves inside me, one is white and one is black. The White Wolf is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and he will fight in the right way.

"But the Black Wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is a helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.

"Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, grandfather?"

The grandfather smiled, and said, "The one I feed."

October 24, 2009

Guest Article:

The Difference Between Professional Growth and Personal Growth Is Learning How to Learn

(Ed's Note: The unknown author of this poem shows real insight in how to get on with living your life. Many people have professional growth—they get degrees or special training to improve their skills and marketability, but few achieve personal growth because it forces you to change your thought process and belief system. Personal growth is very difficult but also very rewarding; reading this article thoughtfully should demonstrate why. I have changed this poem from the one I received, and I hope I have improved it in the process.)

After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
You learn that love does not mean leaning,
And company does not mean security.
You begin to learn that kisses are not contracts
And presents are not promises.
You begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and you eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And learn to build all your roads
On today because tomorrow's ground
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have
A way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure.
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth.
And you learn how to learn . . .
Every goodbye becomes a learning experience.

September 14, 2009

Understanding the Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Its 9 Types of Smarts

(Ed's Note: The following guest article by Melissa Breyer is based on Dr. Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I believe every educator and teacher in America should be aware of Gardner's work, especially since our entire educational system is based on the ability to read and comprehend written material. If you cannot read and comprehend written material in our system, it will be very difficult for you to attain good grades, and maybe even a good education.)

By Melissa Breyer

One of the smartest people I know cannot spell worth beans (or, benes as I am pretty sure she would write), and has a particular "way" with foreign-based words (sorbet is soibert; café au lait is coffee oh loddy).

Meanwhile, my friend who can speak five languages is entirely flummoxed when it comes time to calculate the tip for a waiter.

So what is going on with these two brainiacs—am I, simply, surrounded by idiot savants? Not according to Dr. Howard Gardner, who developed the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, going beyond the IQ test to discover the many ways humans are smart.

Dr. Gardner identified intelligent abilities including language, music, spatial reference, kinesthesia, naturalistic, and possibly existential intelligence. Gardner’s definitions include ways to improve your weaker areas—strengthening your brain. Learning—even about learning—reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s says the American Academy of Neurology.

These are Gardner’s 9 types of intelligence, as described in A Better Brain at Any Age (Conari, 2009) by Sondra Kornblatt.:

1) Linguistic intelligence reflects the ability to read, write, tell stories, and learn languages, grammar, and syntax. Strengthen this ability by studying a new language, improving vocabulary, and writing.

2) Your friendly computer programmer has logical-mathematical intelligence. She is comfortable with numbers, logic, reasoning, and abstractions. To increase logical ability, get a book of logic games, knit a sweater, and learn computer programming. Or watch a movie on video, and stop it to predict what will happen.

3) Those with strong musical intelligence are sensitive to sounds, tones, rhythms, pitch, musical keys, and structure of the songs (from verse and chorus to symphonies). Borrow different types of music CDs, sing with the radio, be quiet and listen to the sounds around you.

4) Those with strong spatial intelligence can imagine, understand, and represent the visual-spatial world. They may have a good sense of direction, hand-eye coordination, and visual memory.

Some people, for instance, can visualize how furniture fits in a room without measurements, or buy a scarf that matches the blue in a blouse at home (perfect "chromatic pitch"). To strengthen your spatial intelligence, be a backseat driver and provide directions for a trip, fit the groceries in the bag or the car, play with jigsaw puzzles and mazes, build some Lego’s, or sculpt some clay.

5) Remember Gene Kelly performing "Gotta Dance!" in Singing in the Rain? He had bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, as do athletes, builders, actors, or surgeons (if they have fine motor skills). Yoga is a great way to increase this ability. Make crafts or build, ride a bike, dance, and learn tai chi or other sports.

6) Someone with interpersonal intelligence is good at organizing people and is aware of moods and motivations. He or she can communicate and lead well. To get more people skills, practice active listening—that is, repeat back what you think someone said.

Learn about the types of personalities with the Myers-Briggs test (psychological preferences such as extraversion and introversion) or the Enneagram (a theory of 9 personality types—possibly centuries old).

7) Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to be self-aware and explore emotions, goals and motivations. This perspective on the human condition is used by writers, philosophers, psychologists, and theologians. To improve your intrapersonal intelligence, "know thyself"—write in a journal, meditate, try the personality tests mentioned above.

8) Individuals with green thumbs and "horse whisperers" have naturalistic intelligence. They are sensitive to nature and may easily recognize and classify species. To get more naturalistic intelligence, expose yourself to the great outdoors: plant a seed, volunteer at an animal shelter, take a walk with a naturalist at the park, read about classifications of animals (kids’ books can be a great place to start).

9) Spiritual or existential intelligence fits all Dr. Gardner’s criteria except for association with a specific brain specialization—though this intelligence could be a whole-brain function. Those with this ability explore questions about life, death, and what lies beyond the subjective perspective. Prayer and meditation increase whole-brain communication and lessen the blood flow to the parietal lobes (which give a subjective sense of time and space). Explore what lies beyond through inquiry, reading, or talking with others.

August 18, 2009

Some Sense and Sensibility

(Ed's Note: Some things just make sense. Here is an example of some things that just make sense.)

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.

One thing you can give and still keep is your word.

The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.

If you want your dreams to come true, you must not oversleep. Work is a tonic that, combined with learning from our experiences, can provide a cure for almost all of our failures.

If you lack the courage to start, you have already finished.

Ideas will not work unless you work.

One thing you cannot recycle is wasted time.

The pursuit of happiness is the chase of a lifetime! It is never too late to become what you might have been.

The heaviest thing you carry through life is a grudge; giving forgiveness is a blessing, not a curse.

The most deadly lie is when you lie to yourself.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, and forget the ones who do not. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy; they just promised it would be worth it.

Friends are like balloons; once you let them go, you might not get them back. Sometimes we get so busy with our own lives and problems that we may not even notice that we have let friends fly away. Sometimes we are so caught up in who is right and who is wrong that we forget what is right and wrong. Sometimes we just do not realize what real friendship means until it is too late. Should you be contacting someone today?

June 8, 2009

45 Lessons in Life

(Ed's Note: This guest article was apparently written by Regina Brett, a 90-year-old columnist for The Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest daily newspaper, located in Cleveland.)

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take "no" for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ''In 5 years, will this matter?".

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

April 4, 2009

Genius Is 99% Perspiration

Failures Would Be Surprised to Learn That Winners Failed Many More Times

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

Thomas Edison said it and I believe it: "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

There are more losers than winners in the game of life because losers many times are people who tried something with all their effort and failed. Because they failed rather than succeeded, they became reluctant to try again. Thomas Edison was not one of those people.

One of the first lessons athletes are taught in competition is that when you give your full effort and are knocked down, you must get up and try again, and again, and again until you succeed. Once you are successful one time, you can hone your talents and use your skills to succeed again and again.

One of the critical areas of life where people fail at an amazing rate is in their relationships. Once involved in a relationship, when faced with challenges and hardships, many more people decide to move on to another partner rather than work through the problems and hardships with the partner they have. There are reasons why marriages fail and giving up too soon is one of them.

Thomas Edison is arguably one of the greatest inventors in the history of the world. He is certainly one of the most prolific, holding 1,093 United States patents in his name as well as patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Edison would be dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" for the impact of his inventions, which included originating the concept and implementation of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses and factories, a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. He would create the first industrial research laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ.

Edison, who was home schooled by his mother, spent only 3 months in formal schooling before his teacher declared him "addled" and unfit for learning. His schoolteacher would go on to no great acclaim. Edison would patent the stock ticker, phonograph, fluoroscope (x-ray machine), and the first commercially practical incandescent light (light bulb) among his 1,093 patents, and form 14 companies (including General Electric, one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world). Edison virtually created the electric industry.

One account claims that Edison and his associates tried 5,000+ different elements before using a lower current electricity, a small carbonized filament and an improved vacuum inside a globe to produce the light bulb, the first reliable, long-lasting source of light that would literally light up the world.

The business world is littered with entrepreneurs who started and bankrupted 1, 2 and even 3 companies before starting a 4th company and succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. These entrepreneurs got knocked down, got back up, did not repeat their mistakes and moved on.

Thomas Edison also said this: "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Consistent, persistent effort combined with learning from mistakes is a big factor in overcoming failure. To Edison's credit, failure was not a word used in his vocabulary.

As Mark Twain said, Edison "never allowed schooling to interfere with his education."

March 28, 2009

Revisiting an American Icon

What Andy Rooney Has Learned

(Ed's Note: The following quotes come from Andy Rooney, an elderly commentator who has been dispensing his words of wisdom on the CBS's "60 Minutes" program since 1978. You can learn a lot from a senior citizen, this is why I am posting some of Rooney's thoughts here. I have learned that there really are few icons in America and even fewer unforgettable people—Andy Rooney is one of them.)

I've learned that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I've learned that when you are in love, it shows.

I've learned that just one person saying to me, "You've made my day!" makes my day.

I've learned that having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I've learned that you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I've learned that I can always pray for someone when I do not have the strength to help him in some other way.

I've learned that no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I've learned that being kind is more important than being right.

I've learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I've learned that we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

I've learned that money doesn't buy class.

I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I've learned that it is those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I've learned that under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I've learned that when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

I've learned that to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I've learned that everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I've learned that life is tough, but I'm tougher.

I've learned that opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I've learned that love, not time, heals all wounds.

I've learned that when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I've learned that I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I've learned that one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

I've learned that no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I've learned that when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.

I've learned that the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

I've learned that a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I've learned that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

March 14, 2009:

But Who Really Cares?

The Unfortunate Death of Mr. Common Sense Is, Unlike the Famous Mark Twain, Not Greatly Exaggerated

(Ed's Note: To my knowledge, this obituary for the late Mr. Common Sense appeared in no newspaper around the world, but would not have been read anyway due to a lack of interest. I post it here because I am saddened by the death of Common Sense; I knew him personally and had a lot of respect for him and his message.)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; why life is not always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (do not spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you could not defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault if you did.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his
wife, Discretion; along with his daughter and son, Responsibility and Reason. His 4 stepbrothers survive him: I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is to Blame, and I Am a Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

March 9, 2009

Readers Want to Know

So Who Is William J. H. Boetcker?

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

Among the more than 1,000 famous quotes from persons I have posted on my blog is William J. H. Boetcker. I quote Boetcker because I like what he has to say and, even though I am posting a quote a day, a number of his quotes have appeared during the last 2 years.

A lot of younger readers do not have clue who Boetcker is, and for those who have wondered, Boetcker is really the forerunner of contemporary "success coaches" such as Tony Robbins.

Boetcker was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister and an outspoken political conservative who is best remembered for authoring a pamphlet in 1916 titled "The Ten Cannots", which has been often attributed to Abraham Lincoln by mistake.

Boetcker is worth reading and what he has to say on a number of topics is worth reflecting upon. Here is just one example:

The Ten Cannots

1) You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

2) You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.

3) You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

4) You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

5) You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.

6) You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

7) You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

8) You cannot establish security on borrowed money.

9) You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.

10) You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

So is Boetcker smart? You make up your mind. I have already made up mind and will not, by choice, be influenced by what you think. I seldom care about what people think; I want to know what they know, not what they think. I have talked to enough idiots to know what they think.

April 28, 2008

Lessons in Life:

You Must Answer Three Questions to Find Your True Purpose in Life

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

There have been times in my life when I have sat down and wondered: What is the meaning of life?

Why are we here?

Is this what my life is going to be?

Is this all there is to life?

Who will remember me when I am gone?

Sometimes my answers to these questions were not very positive. Sometimes my answers were downright negative and involved cussing. Sometime I felt helpless and sorry for myself. I even had a pity party.

Then I thought: What is a matter with you? You should be thankful for all of your blessings. I would start reciting old sayings, like "I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet."

Would any reader who HAS NOT experienced at least one of these thoughts, please stand up and announce yourself. If you stood up, you will lie about other things too. We all, without exception, have questioned our existence and purpose in life at one time or another. Welcome to the club of self-doubt, you are a charter member by simply being human.

What is it that will give you true—not temporary—happiness here during your life on planet Earth? Accomplishment? Money? Notice? The perfect soul mate? I have had them all and still did not find permanent happiness and peace of mind.

There is much in my background to suggest that I should be happy with the blessings I have had, and I certainly am to a degree, but I was never totally satisfied with myself and my purpose in life.

To find my reason for being, I was forced to answer in writing these three questions:

Who am I?

What am I meant to do here?

What am I trying to do with my life?

Finding answers to these questions and putting them into writing was not an easy task, but doing so has make me happier than I have ever been in life. Why? Because now I understand my place in the universe and am comfortable with myself and my role in life beyond being a husband, father and grandfather to my family.

After much reflection and soul searching, here is what I found about myself:

Who am I? I am a survivor, and a man of integrity who became a professional writer.

There are three key words in this statement—survivor, integrity, writer. I am a survivor because I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. As a man of integrity, I learned early on that I could not stand lying, cheating and stealing. In the Bible, Proverbs, Chapter 20 Verse 7 says: "The just man walketh in his integrity; his children are blessed after him." I am that man, and have always been that man. As a writer, I became aware of my ability to communicate with the written word early on and have used my God-given gift to become a professional writer.

What am I meant to do here? Serve others.

Being hard-headed, I spent more than 6 decades of my life waiting for God to reveal to me some great purpose for my life. Finally, thankfully, slowly, I came to realize without any great revelation that there was really only one reason for me to be here and that was to serve others and not myself. This epiphany of personal growth on my part has given me continual happiness for the first time in my life.

What am I trying to do with my life? I am using my writing skills to bring knowledge, understanding and ideas to life that will encourage and motivate people to achieve their true potential.

Perhaps Albert Schweitzer said it best: "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

 September 14, 2007

Words of Wisdom:

Here Are My Personal Favorite Quotes That I Live By, Learn By and Grow By

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

I am an average Joe in many ways, but I draw a very quick and distinct line in the sand when it comes to issues of integrity.

When I see someone lying, cheating and stealing, then acting like they are helping me when in fact they are relieving me of my money while lining their pockets, I take umbrage.

There are no excuses for wrongdoing. I could care less whether your friends, corporate fat cats or even your grandmother is doing it. To justify wrongdoing is saying that everyone else is killing people they do not like so it must be OK for me to kill people too.

I have zero interest in becoming a millionaire at the expense of others. I do not want to be sitting in my mansion counting all of my gold coins alone because I am such a despicable person that no one wants to be around me.

I have spent a good portion of my life studying self-improvement so I can become a better person than I already am. It is as Alexander Pope has said, "Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is man." If there is one person I want to be honest with, it is myself.

When I train at the YMCA on the treadmill I take with me my binder filled with personal quotes that are important to me and my growth.

Many people experience professional growth by earning degrees, attending seminars and training, and reading professional journals. I have had some professional growth, but I am more interested in personal growth, the kind of growth that challenges my thought process and belief system to encourage change for the better.

Here are some of my personal favorite quotes that help me to accommodate change.
Perhaps they may be of interest to you as well:

On Advice:

Seek advice from those who are competent through
their own experience and success to give it.
George Clason

On Belief:

At any given place on any given day at any given time,
something magical can happen.
It is called "belief".
Unknown

On Change:

If you lack the will for change, there is no one
who can show you the way.
Unknown

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.
Unknown

On Character:

Just as we can learn from our mistakes,
we can gain character from our disappointments.
Robert Kiyosaki

On Dreaming:

A dream is a gift you give yourself.
Unknown

On Failing:

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close
they were to success when they gave up.
Tomas Edison

On Fatigue:

Fear and fatigue block the mind.
Confront both, and courage and confidence will flow into you.
Unknown

On Imagination:

A mind once stretched by a new idea moves beyond its
old constraints, never returning to its former, limited dimensions.
It is called "imagination".
Unknown

On Integrity:

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
Unknown

On Kindness:

You cannot do a kindness too soon,
for you never know how soon it will be too late.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

On Luck:

Luck has a peculiar habit of favoring
those who do not depend on it.
George Clason

Good luck waits to come to those who accept opportunity.
George Clason

On Money:

Money is like a sixth sense without which we
cannot make a complete use of the other five.
W. Somerset Maugham

One may not condemn a man for succeeding financially because
he knows how. Neither may one with justice take away for a man
what he has fairly earned, to give to men of less ability.
George Clason

A part of all I earn is mine to keep.
George Clason

Earning money has a way of increasing financial intelligence quickly.
Robert Kiyosaki

Self-discipline is the No. 1 delineating factor between
the rich, the middle class and the poor.
Robert Kiyosaki

On Preparedness:

It was apparent that no one could do for the scribe
what the scribe had done for himself.
George Clason

Each man has to work out his own understanding of what
needs to be done, and then prepare himself to take advantage
of the opportunity to succeed in a big way.
George Clason

On Running:

When aerobic running becomes a daily habit,
Strength and confidence follow.
Arthur Lydiard

On Schooling:

I never let schooling interfere with my education.
Mark Twain

On Self-Control:

Yoga taught me "impulse control", the ability
to feel an urge and delay acting on it.
Unknown

On Self-Image:

What you think of me is none of my business.
What is most important is what I think of myself.
Robert Kiyosaki

Always remember that no matter what anyone is saying to you
from the outside, the most important conversation is the one
you are having with yourself on the inside.
Robert Kiyosaki

On Soul:

When the mind is controlled and still, what remains is the soul.
Unknown

On Stability:

When stability becomes a habit, maturity and clarity follow.
Unknown

On Success:

Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
Albert Schweitzer

On Thinking:

The hardest thing in the world to do is to think,
and that is why people do so little of it.
Henry Ford

Your mind, more than your actions, determines your net worth.
Robert Kiyosaki

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion
without the discomfort of thought.
John F. Kennedy

Keep your thoughts positive, because thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive, because behavior becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because values become your destiny.
Mahatma Gahdhi
(with editing by Ed Bagley)
(Postscript: remember t-w-b-h-v-d to remember
thoughts-words-behavior-habits-values-destiny)

My own thoughts and feelings are the cause of all of my problems,
not the world or the people in it.

I have struggled by using my own negative thoughts and feelings
to negatively influence my productive thoughts and actions.

I let go of all negative thoughts and feelings by releasing them
from my subconscious mind and into oblivion.
I embrace all positive thoughts and feelings.

My conscious mind and subconscious mind are now
clear and positive. I am happy and free.
Ed Bagley

On Timing:

This time, like all times, is a very good one,
when we know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

On Training:

My most frequent admonition to athletes
and coaches is: train, do not strain.
Arthur Lydiard

Note: For a treasure trove of interesting quotes simply click on my Famous Quotes section.

April 17, 2008

Why Rose Is an Inspiration

Imagine Being 87 Years Old and Going Back to School to Earn Your Bachelor's Degree

(Editor's Note: This story has been circulating around the Internet and has a message I deem worthy of my web site.)

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm 87 years old. Can I give you a hug?"

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze.

"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.

She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids..."

"No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

"I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!" she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, "I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."

As we laughed, she cleared her throat and began, " We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

"There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

"We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

"There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

"If you are 19 years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn 20 years old. If I am 87 years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will l turn 88.

"Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.

"The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets."

She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose."

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

More than 2,000 college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.

These words have been passed along in loving memory of Rose: Remember, growing older is mandatory, growing up is optional. We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

March 15, 2008

Lessons in Life:

The Incessant Whining at Grumble Town

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

(Editor's Note: There is nothing more unattractive than the sound of whining in the midst of plenty. It is not a good sign of character at any level—in individuals, families, communities, or nations as a whole. The tale deals with a whiny town, offering a cure that no one can resist.)

There once was a place called Grumble Town where everybody grumbled, grumbled, grumbled. In summer, the people grumbled that it was too hot. In winter, it was too cold. When it rained, the children whimpered because they could not go outside. When the sun came out, they complained that they had nothing to do.

Neighbors griped and groaned about neighbors, parents about children, brothers about sisters. Everybody had a problem, and everyone whined that someone should come do something about it.

One day a peddler trudged into town, carrying a big basket on his back. When he heard all the fussing and sighing and moaning, he put his basket down and cried:

"O citizens of this town! Your fields are ripe with grain, your orchards heavy with fruit. Your mountains are covered by good, thick forests, and your valleys watered by deep, wide rivers. Never have I seen a place blessed by such opportunity and abundance. Why are you so dissatisfied? Gather around me, and I will show you the way to contentment."

Now this peddler's shirt was tattered and torn. His pants showed patches, his shoes had holes. The people laughed to think that someone like him could show them how to be content. But while they snickered, he pulled a long rope from his basket and strung it between two poles in the town square. Then, holding his basket before him, he cried:

"People of Grumble Town! Whoever is dissatisfied, write your trouble on a piece of paper, and bring it and put it in this basket. I will exchange your problem for happiness."

The crowd swarmed around him. No one hesitated at the chance to get rid of his trouble. Every man, woman, and child in the village scribbled a grumble onto a scrap of paper and dropped it into the basket.

They watched as the peddler took each trouble and hung it on the line. By the time he was through, troubles fluttered on every inch of rope, from end to end. Then he said: "Now each one of you should take from this magic line the smallest trouble you can find."

They all rushed forward to examine all the troubles. They hunted and fingered and pondered, each trying to pick the very smallest trouble. After a while the magic line was empty.

And behold! Each held in his hand the very same trouble he had put into the basket. Each had chosen his own trouble, thinking it was the smallest of all on the line.

From that day, the people of Grumble Town stopped grumbling all the time. And whenever anyone had the urge to whimper or whine, he thought of the peddler and his magic line.

(Editor's Note: This story is part of the collection put together by William J. Bennett (Bill Bennett) in his book The Moral Compass. It has a treasure of stories celebrating life's journey. I highly recommend The Moral Compass as a great read and a great teaching tool for your children.)

Read my editorial comments on key issues, including "Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America – The First Is Abortion", "So Why Should I Subsidize Any Banks Because of Their Greed and Incompetence?", "A Disturbing Trend in Our Society – The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions" and "Washington's Hottest Political Issue Pits PI Attorneys and the Insurance Industry".

September 17, 2007

Prepare to Succeed

3 Ways to Get Ahead Faster: 1) Focus 2) Focus 3) Focus

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

When I focus on my training, I perform well and achieve my running goals.

When I focus on my business, I generate cash flow and achieve my financial goals.

Achieving my financial goals is no different than achieving my running goals.

Both activities are competitions, and I am good at competing. I almost always win in a competition because I focus on my objective and am willing to pay a bigger price than my competitors.

I understand getting to the top is not so much about having the will to win—everyone wants to win—but having the will to prepare to win.

Preparation is everything that will is not.

Having the will to win is a want, but preparing to win is a need.

What is opportunity without preparedness? Nothing but an opportunity wasted.

It is only when preparedness meets opportunity head on that an explosion happens and something exciting takes place.

Get physically prepared to win. A consistent exercise program will improve your health, improve your efficiency, and improve your disposition.

Get mentally prepared to win. Planning to win, working to win, and expecting to win are all prerequisites to winning.

Get emotionally prepared to win. The heart of a champion is a heart filled up with the belief that you can win. All of the work in the world will not carry you to victory, you must believe before you can achieve.

Read. Study. Prepare. Then Practice. Practice. Practice. And Practice. Then Compete and Win.

To generate revenue and build your business:

Develop financial intelligence.

Develop systems intelligence.

Develop emotional intelligence.

Then dominate and crush the competition.

Do not play to compete in sports or business, play to win.

Leave the platitudes for the losers.

Note: Read my movie reviews on "Waking Ned Devine" (arguably the greatest Irish comedy ever, and my favorite comedy film ever), and "Million Dollar Baby" (an Irish cast and flavor wherein we find Clint Eastwood playing a boxing trainer/manager who studies Irish Gaelic and promotes his woman fighter Maggie Fitzgerald—played by Best Actress Oscar winner Hillary Swank). These two films are excellent.

February 16, 2007

Life Is a Pattern:

Gandhi Gives Us This Insight on Life

If you think your life is not really a pattern, check out this insight from Mahatma Gandhi:

                                       
Keep your thoughts positive,
                                        because thoughts become your words.

                                       
Keep your words positive,
                                        because words become your behavior.

                                       
Keep your behavior positive,
                                        because behavior becomes your habits.

                                       
Keep your habits positive,
                                        because habits become your values.

                                       
Keep your values positive,
                                       
because values become your destiny.

                                       
--Mahatma Gandhi
                                        (with editing by ed bagley)

                                        t-w-b-h-v-d

                                        thoughts-words-behavior-habits-values-destiny

Kindness:

August 22, 2010

Arabs Stingy About Helping Arabs

Arab Oil States on Pakistani Flood Relief: Take a Flying Leap Off of a Short Pier

(Ed's Note: This article by Marc Ginsberg originally appeared in the Huffington Post. In 1994, he was appointed by President Clinton as U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, making him the first American of Jewish heritage to be appointed to an Arab nation. The article is Ginsberg's; the headlines are mine.)

By Marc Ginsberg

For nearly three weeks since the monsoon rains triggered historical flooding along Pakistan's Indus River the world has barely reacted to the tragedy befalling the hapless people of Pakistan.

The numbers are staggering . . . more than 20% of the country has been inundated by the worst flooding in Pakistan's history; more than 20 million marooned victims -- a staggering 14% of Pakistan's population of 170 million -- have lost everything. The mounting humanitarian crisis is beginning to take on biblical proportions. And some fear the worst is yet to come!

Only a small fraction of the 6 million victims has received any tangible aid -- 500,000 at last unscientific count. The situation made all the more compelling by a total washout of bridges and roads in the affected areas leaving a tenuous helicopter lifeline as the only means to reach the people desperately in need of food and potable water.

Survivors are barely clinging to life . . . with neither shelter from the incessant torrents of rain or food reaching so many. While the death toll so far is relatively low (1,500 so far) that number is expected to skyrocket in the days and weeks ahead from the inevitable disease that follows such a calamity.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, with the strong backing of the Obama Administration, plans to convene an emergency UN meeting to kick start international donations on August 19. The U.S. has already directed $76 million in urgent emergency flood relief, evidenced by U.S. military helicopters running relief supplies ferried in from U.S. bases throughout the region.

Unfortunately, of the $460 million deemed immediately needed by the UN for disaster relief barely 50% has actually been delivered, the lion's share from the U.S. and other western nations.

Indeed, Deputy British Prime Minister Nick Clegg deemed the international response to be "absolutely pitiful" with fully 25% of the assistance coming from the UK so far.

The paltry and pathetic response so far to Pakistan's plight from Arab oil producing states is particularly disturbing.

Why, I ask, are wealthy Arab states so slow coming to the rescue of fellow Muslims from their accumulated oil revenue surplus? The Arab OPEC states are awash in cash.

With this being the holy month of Ramadan -- when charitable deeds are of particular significance -- one wonders why the cries of fellow Muslim desperation are hardly being heard! Surely, the Arab media is covering this compelling
humanitarian tragedy.

This is not my narrative. Rather, it is the blistering criticism being leveled by the Pakistani media.

Today's Daily Times of Pakistan editorialized that " . . . it is shocking the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has yet to voice strong support for Pakistan in its darkest hour and it is astonishing that Muslim countries Pakistanis defend with such passion (such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, etc.) have contributed so poorly."

A visit to the OIC's website reveals nary a reference to either the floods or to any organized effort initiated by the OIC to support flood victims. What gives? It would take a couple of phone calls among the leading oil producing states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, the United Arab Emirates to meet, if not exceed the disaster relief targets for their fellow Muslim state.

Ironically, so much of the funding to support al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan emanates from these very nations' private citizens. Memo to these donors: the people of Pakistan are far more deserving than either al Qaeda or the Taliban.

One reason why Arab states are slow to pledge and even slower to deliver on their promises to support international causes, such as disaster, is that they refuse to empower and financially support the very organizations they helped create to address and redress the causes afflicting Muslims less fortunate.

The OIC is a case in point.

The very organization created to serve as the collective voice of Muslim nations neither has the resources or the financial support to serve as a significant conduit for assistance . . . one reason why the OIC has hardly lifted a finger to help Pakistanis.

When the UN convenes its donors' conference for Pakistani relief this weekend perhaps Arab states will find their collective humanitarian voices in time to make a difference before it is too late for the millions of Pakistanis searching for help.

Nothing less than a $1 billion ironclad commitment to Pakistan from the Arab OPEC states (mind you, not a pledge, but cash on the barrelhead) will suffice given the expanding disaster and rebuilding costs.

The increasingly frustrated people of Pakistan surely have reason to wonder why the U.S. and the U.K, rather than their fellow Muslim state of Saudi Arabia - Pakistan's biggest benefactor in the Arab world - have been their disaster relief champions.

Ramadan compels an appropriately generous response from these nations. Kudos to the U.S. and the U.K for showing the way -- now its time for fellow Muslim Arab states to learn by example.

July 18, 2010

Twinkies and Root Beer

(Ed's Note: The author of this beautiful story is unknown, but the thought behind the story will live on forever. When we meet and greet people, we seldom remember later what was said or what happened, but we can remember how they made us feel. God's presence is everywhere in the Holy Spirit. If you have not already figured it out, the Holy Spirit is not only the giver of life, but also love, and any act of kindness.)

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an elderly man. The man was sitting in the park just feeding some pigeons.

The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.

The man gratefully accepted it and smiled at boy. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer.

Again, the man smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the man, and gave him a hug. The man gave him his biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?

"He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? God's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the elderly man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked," Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?"

He replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." However, before his son responded, he added," You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!

May 15, 2010 - 2nd Article

This Woman Says Enough of the Whining and Complaining by Ungrateful, Legal and Illegal Mexican Immigrants Who Can't Get With It

(Ed's Note: This letter was originally submitted to the Orange County Register newspaper in California, but the newspaper refused to publish it. Apparently the Register prefers to publish letters that conveniently coincide with the political philosophy of its owners, editors, reporters and other butt-ends attached to the backside of the paper. I post it here because I can; I am not affiliated with the Orange County Register and am probably better off because of it.)

By Rosemary LaBonte

Dear Editor:

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer.

Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birthplace to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.

Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these first-generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people.

When we liberated France, no one in those villages were looking for French-American German-American or Irish-American soldiers. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country.

Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country.

I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life.

I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

 May 15, 2010

Is It Time for the United States of America to Take Down the Bird Feeder That It Thought Was Such a Great Idea?

(Ed's Note: This guest comment is from a reader.)

I bought a bird feeder. I hung
It on my back porch and filled
It with seed. What a beauty of
A bird feeder it was, as I filled it
Lovingly with seed. Within a
Week we had hundreds of birds
Taking advantage of the
Continuous flow of free and
Easily accessible food.

But then the birds started
Building nests in the boards
Of the patio, above the table,
And next to the barbecue.
Then came the poop. It was
Everywhere: on the patio tile,
The chairs, the table,
Everywhere!

Then some of the birds
Turned mean. They would
Dive bomb me and try to
Peck me even though I had
Fed them out of my own
Pocket.

And other birds were
Boisterous and loud. They
Sat on the feeder and
Squawked and screamed at
All hours of the day and night
And demanded that I fill it
When it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn't even
Sit on my own back porch
Anymore. So I took down the
Bird feeder and in three days
The birds were gone. I cleaned
Up their mess and took down
The many nests they had built
All over the patio.

Soon, the back yard was like
It used to be. Quiet, serene . . .
And no one demanding their
Rights to a free meal.

Now let's see.
Our government gives out
Free food, subsidized housing,
Free medical care and free
Education, and allows anyone
Born here to be an automatic
Citizen.

Then the illegals came by the
Tens of thousands. Suddenly
Our taxes went up to pay for
Free services; small apartments
Are housing 5 families; you
Have to wait 6 hours to be seen
By an emergency room doctor;
Your child's second grade class is
Behind other schools because
Over half the class doesn't speak
English.

Corn Flakes now come in a
Bilingual box; I have to
"press one" to hear my bank
Talk to me in English, and
People waving flags other
Than "Old Glory" are
Squawking and screaming
In the streets, demanding
More rights and free liberties.

Just my opinion, but maybe
it's time for the government
To take down the bird feeder.

April 19, 2010

Your Money or Your Life?

Airman Takes Umbrage When a Career Bureaucrat Lashes Out Against a 13% Pay Raise for Our Fighting Forces

(Ed's Note: This letter struck a chord with me. I served during the Vietnam War and remember getting exactly $125 a month for putting my life on the line for my country. The Vietnam War was not a popular war as thousands of Americans demonstrated against our involvement in the conflict. In the meantime, our guys were getting killed and maimed while "well-meaning" Hollywood stars were making hay with well-orchestrated publicity stunts. I'm not sure any government can pay its soldiers enough money to get killed in battle, many times with no long-lasting, positive result for the cause. The Cindy Williams mentioned in this airman's letter was the Assistant Director for National Security in the Congressional Budget Office from 1994 to 1997 and wrote her editorial piece in 2000 in The Washington Post that criticized a proposed 13% pay increase for military members.)

"Ms Williams: I just had the pleasure of reading your column, "Our GIs earn enough" and I am a bit confused. Frankly, I'm wondering where this vaunted overpayment is going, because as far as I can tell, it disappears every month between DFAS (The Defense Finance and Accounting Service) and my bank account.

Checking my latest earnings statement I see that I make $1,118 before taxes per month. After taxes, I take home $874. When I run that through the calculator, I come up with an annual salary of $13,414 before taxes, and $10,490, after.

I work in the Air Force Network Control Center where I am part of the team responsible for a 5,000-host computer network I am involved with infrastructure segments, specifically with Cisco Systems equipment.

A quick check under jobs For Network Technicians in the Washington, D.C. area reveals a position in my career field, requiring three years experience with my job. Amazingly, this job does NOT pay $13,414 a year.

No, this job is being offered at $70,000 to $80,000 per year. I'm sure you can draw the obvious conclusions.

Given the tenor of your column, I would assume that you NEVER had the pleasure of serving your country in her armed forces.

Before you take it upon yourself to once more castigate congressional and DOD leadership for attempting to get the families in the military's lowest pay brackets off of WIC and food stamps, I suggest that you join a group of deploying soldiers headed for AFGHANISTAN; I leave the choice of service branch up to you. Whatever choice you make, though, opt for the six-month rotation: it will guarantee you the longest possible time away from your family and friends, thus giving you full "deployment experience."

As your group prepares to board the plane, make sure to note the spouses and children who are saying good-bye to their loved ones.

Also take care to note that several families are still unsure of how they'll be able to make ends meet while the primary breadwinner is gone, obviously they've been squandering the "vast" piles of cash the government has been giving them.

Try to deploy over a major holiday; Christmas and Thanksgiving are perennial favorites. And when you're actually over there, sitting in a foxhole, shivering against the cold desert night, and the flight sergeant tells you that there aren't enough people on shift to relieve you for chow, remember this: trade whatever MRE (meal-ready-to-eat) you manage to get for the tuna noodle casserole or cheese tortellini, and add Tabasco to everything. This gives some flavor.

Talk to your loved ones as often as you are permitted; it won't nearly be long enough or often enough, but take what you can get and be thankful for it. You may have picked up on the fact that I disagree with most of the points you present in your op-ed piece.

But, tomorrow from KABUL, I will defend to the death your right to say it.

You see, I am an American fighting man, a guarantor of your First Amendment rights and every other right you cherish.

On a daily basis, my brother and sister soldiers worldwide ensure that you, and people like you, can thumb your collective nose at us, all on a salary that is nothing short of pitiful and under conditions that would make most people cringe.

We hemorrhage our best and brightest into the private sector because we can't offer the stability and pay of civilian companies.

And you, Ms. Williams, have the gall to say that we make more than we deserve? Shame on you, hiding behind your fat government paycheck and outstanding benefit package while we service members are protecting your right to criticize our efforts. You have a lot of nerve, but very little gratitude.

Signed, An Airman in Afghanistan

May 16, 2009

Lessons in Life: A Sound for a Smell

(Ed's Note: We can learn a lot from stories. The world is full of people who will try to get something they don't deserve—often, money they have not earned. Here is wisdom that recognizes the false claims of greed.)

A poor traveler stopped at midday to rest in the shade of a spreading tree. He had journeyed far and had only a single piece of bread left for his lunch. But across the road stood a stall where a baker sold rich pastries and cakes, and the traveler enjoyed inhaling the fragrances wafting across the way while he munched on his thin, stale morsel.

When he rose to continue his journey, the baker suddenly ran across the road and seized him by the collar.

"Just a minute!" the baker cried. "You must pay me for my cakes!"

"What do you mean?" the startled traveler protested. "I haven't touched your cakes."

"You thief!" the baker shouted. "It's perfectly obvious you've enjoyed your own stale biscuit only by sniffing the pleasant odors of my bakery. You won't leave until you've paid me for what you've taken. I don't work for nothing, my friend."

A crowd gathered and urged the two to take their dispute before the local judge, who was a wise old man. The judge listened to their arguments, thought a long time, then rendered his judgment.

"You are right," he told the baker. "This traveler has savored the fruits of your labor. I rule the smell of your cakes is worth three gold coins."

"That's absurd!" the traveler objected. "Besides, I've spent all my money on my journey. I don't have a penny to pay."

"Ah," said the judge, "in that case I will help you." He pulled three gold coins from his own pocket, which the baker quickly reached to take.

"Not yet," said the judge. "You say this traveler merely smelled your cakes?"

"That's right," replied the baker.

"But he never swallowed a bite?"

"I told you he did not."

"He never tasted a pastry?"

"No!"

"And never touched your pies?"

"No!"

"Then since he has consumed only vapors, you must be paid with sound. Open your ears and receive what you deserve."

The wise judge let the gold coins tumble from one hand to the other so that their tingling entered the baker's greedy ears.

"If you had been kind enough to help this poor man along his way," the judge said, "then truly you would have found golden reward in Heaven."

(Ed's Note: This story is part of the collection put together by William J. Bennett (Bill Bennett) in his book The Moral Compass. It has a treasure of stories celebrating life's journey. I highly recommend The Moral Compass as a great read.)

March 29, 2009

An Example of Modeling

What You Do Speaks So Loudly That What You Say I Cannot Hear

(Ed's Note: For each of us there are seminal moments in our life, events that affect us in an extraordinary way that serve us throughout our life. One occurred recently when passengers on a commercial jetliner watched through their window seats with rapt attention when a family gathered to accept the body of their son—a casualty in the Iraqi War—as his fellow U. S. Marine Corps veterans spread a United States flag over his casket before removing him from the cargo hold. The passengers had no idea the body of a dead soldier was on the same aircraft they were flying home. The following story provides another seminal moment in someone's life, a moment they will not soon forget.)

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and sandals. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college.

He is brilliant. Kind of profound and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college. Across the street from the campus is a very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students but are not sure how to go about it.

One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in wearing sandals, jeans, his worn out T-shirt, and his "wild" hair. The service had already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now, people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything.

Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats and sits down on the carpet.

By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill.

Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can't blame him for what he's about to do.

How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand this college kid sitting on the floor?

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.

And now they see this elderly man drop his cane to the floor. With great difficulty, he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone.

Everyone chokes up with emotion.

When the minister gains control, he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."

Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.

March 8, 2009

An Unforgettable Moment

The Meter on the Taxi Was Ticking, But My Heart Was Racing Faster

(Ed's Note: Take a moment out of your busy day to read and appreciate just how great life can be.)

So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you please carry my bag out to the car?" she asked. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

"It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long." I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

"What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner
and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm
tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I replied.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank You."

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.

What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware—beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Read these other great articles which will touch your heart, lift your spirit and make you feel good about the wonderful gift of life and love. Find them in my Lessons in Life Section:

"What God Said: "I Recognized Abbey Right Away . . . "

"A Story That Proves Children Can Reach Other Children in a Very Positive Way"

"All You Really Need to Know About Red Marbles, Green Peas and Kindness"

"Who Has Had the Greatest Influence on Your Life, and Why?"

"Become a Parent and Witness a Miracle"

"The Real Heroes of Our Time Are Those Who Serve Others"

"If You Think as a Parent that Little League Baseball Does Not Teach Important Survival Skills, Think Again"

"The Purple Iris" Reminds Me About the Value of Wisdom in My Old Age"

"You Must Answer Three Questions to Find Your True Purpose in Life"

March 6, 2009

A Friendly Reminder: Do It Now

All You Need to Know About Red Marbles, Green Peas and Kindness

(Ed's Note: Among all of the useless junk, pop culture, political rants, sham offers, and stupidity floating around on the Internet, there are nuggets more precious than the finest gold. Here is one.)

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between the store owner, Mr. Miller, and the ragged boy next to me.

"Hello Barry, how are you today?"

"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good."

"They are good, Barry. How 's your Ma?"

"Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."

"Good. Anything I can help you with?"

"No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."

"Would you like to take some home?" asked Mr. Miller.

"No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with."

"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"

"All I got's my prize marble here."

"Is that right? Let me see it," said Miller.

"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."

"I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?" the store owner asked.

"Not zackley, but almost."

"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble," Mr. Miller told the boy.

"Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller."

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said, "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store."

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado, but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community, and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.

They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts, all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her, and moved on to the casket.

Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

"Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size, they came to pay their debt."

"We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho."

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The three young men and their red marbles prove that we will be remembered more by our deeds than by our words. Their acts of gratitude remind us that it is never too soon to do a kindness, for we never know when too soon will be too late. Life truly is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments of kindness that we witness which take our breath away.

February 26, 2009

Lessons in Life

Life Could Really Be Such a Bummer Were It Not for the Grace of Children

(Ed's Note: This Internet contribution just might make someone's day, put a smile on your face, and touch your heart. I did a little editing on this and added some headlines.)

What It Means to Be Adopted

Teacher Debbie Moon's first graders were discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture had a different hair color than the other members. One of her students suggested that he may have been adopted.

A little girl said, "I know all about adoption, I was adopted."

"What does it mean to be adopted?" asked another child.

"It means," said the girl, "that you grew in your mommy's heart instead of her tummy!"

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

On my way home one day, I stopped to watch a Little League baseball game that was being played in a park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on the first-base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was.

"We're behind 14 to nothing," he answered with a smile.

"Really," I replied. "I have to say you don't look very discouraged."

"Discouraged?" the boy asked with a puzzled look on his face. "Why should we be discouraged? We haven't been up to bat yet."

Act Well Your Part, Therein All Honor Lies

Whenever I'm disappointed with my spot in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott. Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother told me that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen.

On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. "Guess what, Mom," he shouted, and then said those words that will forever remain a lesson to me, "I've been chosen to clap and cheer."

It Is Never Too Soon to Be Kind to Someone

An eyewitness account from New York City, on a cold day in December, some years ago: A little boy, about 10 years old, was standing barefooted before a shoe store, peering through the window, and shivering with cold.

A lady approached the young boy and said, "My, you're in such deep thought staring in that window!"

"I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," the boy replied.

The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with the towel.

By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased a pair of shoes for the boy. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, "No doubt, you will be more comfortable now."

As she turned to go, the astonished boy caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face with tears in his eyes, asked her, "Are you God's wife?"

(Ed's Note: A hurtful thought, look or deed can cut us to the quick, but a kindness will be remembered forever.)

September 2, 2007

Lift Someone Up Today

A Story that Proves Children Can Reach Other Children in a Very Positive Way

(Ed's Note: A lot of stories and jokes come in my email daily. Every now and then a story worth repeating arrives unexpectedly. Here is one, which reminds me of a famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. Enjoy this uplifting story.)

"At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.

After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: 'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe, that when a child like Shay—physically and mentally handicapped—comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:

Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?'

Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all teammates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third! Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay did not make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!"

(Ed's Note: Read two articles of mine that underscore the importance of what happened to Shay in the baseball game. In my Lessons in Life Archive find "If You Think as a Parent that Little League Baseball Does Not Teach Important Survival Skills, Think Again" and "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know: Four Realities in a Man's World - Part 3".

Literature:

September 28, 2010

Here Are Some Things You May Not Know That Don' t Amount to a Hill of Beans

(Ed's Note: I am a person who will read what appears to be useless information. You may be one too. If you are, this is for you.)

Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?

Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called "pygg". When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as "pygg banks." When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a bank that resembled a pig. And it caught on.

Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches, while pennies and nickels do not?

The U.S. Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing gold and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small quantities of the precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels aren't notched because the metals they contain are not valuable enough to shave.

Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have buttons on the left?

When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. And that's where women's buttons have remained since.

Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?

In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfil obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.

Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called "passing the buck"?

In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility, he would "pass the buck" to the next player.

Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?

It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would then just touch or clink the host's glass with his own.

Why are people in the public eye said to be "in the limelight"?

Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and stage lighting by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, performers on stage "in the limelight" were seen by the audience to be the center of attention.

Why do ships and aircraft in trouble use "mayday? as their call for help?

This comes from the French word m'aidez -meaning "help me" -- and is pronounced "mayday."

Why is someone who is feeling great "on cloud nine"?

Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with 9 being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud 9, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

Why are zero scores in tennis called "love"?

In France, where tennis first became popular, a big, round zero on scoreboard looked like an egg and was called "l'oeuf," which is French for "egg." When tennis was introduced in the U.S., Americans pronounced it "love."

In golf, where did the term "Caddie" come from?

When Mary, later Queen of Scots, went to France as a young girl (for education & survival), Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scot game "golf." So he had the first golf course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment.

To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the long run), she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced 'ca- day' and the Scots changed it into "caddie."

Some odd facts to fill in when conversation with others seems to stall, or become boring:

There are no penguins in the North Pole.

Kleenex tissues were originally used as filters in gas masks.

Children grow faster in the springtime than any other season.

Bamboo plants can grow up to 36 inches in a day.

The bark of an older redwood tree is fireproof.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men. (And you thought they were just flirting!)

Your stomach has to produce a new layer mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself. (How gross.)

September 23, 2010

Some Clever Anagrams for My Literate Readers With Brain Power

(Ed's Note: For the uninitiated, an anagram is a word, phrase or name formed by rearranging the letters of another, such as cinema from iceman.)

PRESBYTERIAN :
When you rearrange the letters:
BEST IN PRAYER

ASTRONOMER :
When you rearrange the letters:
MOON STARER

DESPERATION :
When you rearrange the letters:
A ROPE ENDS IT

THE EYES :
When you rearrange the letters:
THEY SEE

THE MORSE CODE :
When you rearrange the letters:
HERE COME DOTS

GEORGE BUSH:
When you rearrange the letters:
HE BUGS GORE  

SLOT MACHINES :
When you rearrange the letters:
CASH LOST IN ME

ANIMOSITY :
When you rearrange the letters:
IS NO AMITY

DORMITORY :
When you rearrange the letters:
DIRTY ROOM 

ELECTION RESULTS :
When you rearrange the letters:
LIES - LET'S RECOUNT

SNOOZE ALARMS :
When you rearrange the letters:
ALAS! NO MORE Z 'S

A DECIMAL POINT :
When you rearrange the letters:
I'M A DOT IN PLACE

THE EARTHQUAKES :
When you rearrange the letters:
THAT QUEER SHAKE

MOTHER-IN-LAW :
When you rearrange the letters:
WOMAN HITLER

ELEVEN PLUS TWO :
When you rearrange the letters:
TWELVE PLUS ONE  

March 25, 2007

Behold the Heroic Couplet:

A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing, Drink Deep, or Taste Not the Pierian Spring

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Alexander Pope, best known for popularizing the heroic couplet, came to my attention in an English literature class at Michigan State University in the mid-1960s.

I was more interested in reading Pope at the time than learning about Pope because he clearly knew how to do what I call "turn a word". That is, to write a string of words that grabs your attention and delivers a thought so profound that it cannot be ignored.

Pope was a master at this art in writing.
Perhaps you have read or heard these gems:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

The ends must justify the means.

More than one author has rewritten these thoughts and claimed them for monetary gain. Each of these thoughts could remind us of a stunning truth: someone said it first.

Some pundits say that England's William Shakespeare is the most read and most quoted author ever. Many suggest that the Holy Bible is second. It has been said that British author Agatha Christie's books have only been outsold by Shakespeare and the Bible.

Alexander Pope may not have sold as many books, but he has been cited as the second most frequently quoted writer in the English language, after William Shakespeare.

Pope (1688-1744), the master of the heroic couplet, is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the early 18th Century. He was widely known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer.

For the uninitiated, the heroic couplet is a pair of rhyming iambic pentameters. Iambic is a verse using iambs, and an iamb is a metrical foot consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable. So there you have it, learning once again springs on your computer monitor.

The heading to this article is an example of Pope's heroic couplet: A little learning is a dangerous thing, Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.

Read for a moment, appreciate just how good Pope and his verses were, and understand why he would grab my attention:

On bribery: Judges and senates have been bought for gold; Esteem and love were never to be sold.

On churches: Who builds a church to God, and not to Fame, Will never mark the marble with his Name.

On curiosity: One who is too wise an observer of the business of others, like one who is too curious in observing the labor of bees, will often be stung for his curiosity.

On the Devil: Satan is wiser now than before, and tempts by making rich instead of poor.

On education: 'Tis education forms the common mind. Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined.

On expectation: Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.

On fashion: Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

On gossip: And all who told it added something new, and all who heard it, made enlargements too.

On judgment: 'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none go just alike, yet each believes his own.

On order: Order is Heaven's first law; and this confess, Some are and must be greater than the rest.

On pride: What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.

On proverbs: Hope springs eternal in the human breast, Man never is, but always to be blest.

On providence: Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust, Yet cry, if man's unhappy, God's unjust.

On right: Always do right. That will gratify some of the people and astonish the rest.

On self-knowledge: Trust not yourself, but your defects to know, Make use of every friend and every foe.

On self-sacrifice: Many men have been capable of doing a wise thing, more a cunning thing, but very few a generous thing.

Here is the message: Great writing and great writers are timeless for those who seek knowledge and truth. If you care for neither then it does not matter. For example:

If today's generation is on spring break at the beach, drinking and drugging, and running around half-naked willing to hump each other that is their business and their perfect right.

My suspicion is that their personal life is so bereft of anything meaningful that they must put on a public display to convince themselves they are having a life experience. In their effort to raise shallowness to an art form they occasionally succeed.

Now back to something worth examining, the life of Alexander Pope, who should provide inspiration for not only poets and writers but also for the handicapped.

Pope, born in London, was the son of a linen merchant and his wife. Since they were Roman Catholic, he grew up having to deal with the Church of England, which banned Catholics from teaching upon pain of perpetual imprisonment.

His aunt taught him to read and he was educated at two secret Catholic schools that, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas.

Pope suffered from Pott's disease, a form of tuberculosis affecting the spine. This stunted his growth and deformed his body, perhaps ending his life at 56. He was only 4-foot-6 and was apparently not very attractive, which may explain why he never married.

Despite his inauspicious start in life, Louis Kronenberger in "Alexander Pope Selected Works" says "In terms of money as well as fame Pope was probably the most successful English poet who ever lived. No other in his own day—few in any day—had so many readers or received such nearly universal acclaim."

Pope' s works would not cause him to be forgotten, but the growth of Romanticism in the late 18th century would. Joseph Warton would deny that Pope was ever a "true poet" and dismiss him as merely a "man of wit" and a "man of sense" thus hastening the demise of the "Age of Pope".

It would take until the 1930s to rediscover Alexander Pope and his works. By posting this article on Internet directories hopefully Alexander Pope and his works will again take their rightful place among the great works in history. With apologies to a great writer:

Then Alexander Pope who was soon forgot,
Might finally become a true juggernaut.

February 15, 2007

Book Review:

Isaacson's Biography of Benjamin Franklin Reminds Us of What We Did Not Realize

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Almost everyone who has graduated from high school knows that Benjamin Franklin was a famous American.

Most of us have read that Franklin used a lighting rod to prove a theory he had about electricity. Others remember that he was the one who invented the bifocals that many of us wear today. (I just ordered a new pair of trifocals; thanks to Ben, I see better.)

But Walter Isaacson's biography "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" chronicles an incredible journey of one of America's most influential founding fathers and arguably its greatest diplomat. I did not know that Franklin was America’s best scientist, inventor, writer, business strategist and diplomat of his time. He was also one of the era’s most practical political thinkers!

Thanks to Isaacson's carefully crafted work I also learned these facts about Franklin's extraordinary life and times:

Franklin’s interest in electricity led him to note the distinction between insulation and conductors, the idea of electrical grounding, and the concepts of capacitors and batteries.

Franklin discovered that the big East Coast storms known as northeasters, whose winds come from the northeast, actually move in the opposite direction from their winds, traveling up the coast from the south, thus beginning the science of weather forecasting.

Franklin combined both science and mechanical practicality by devising the first urinary catheter used in America.

Franklin declined to patent his inventions, freely sharing his findings, as his love of science was born of curiosity.

Because there was no foundry in America for casting type when Franklin opened his print shop, he became the first person in America to manufacture type.

Franklin reprinted the English novel--Pamela--thereby publishing the first novel in America.

Franklin created America’s first great humor classic, Poor Richard’s Almanack (Almanac, in today’s usage) which Franklin began publishing in 1732, combining two goals of his doing-well-doing-good philosophy: the making of money and the promotion of virtue. His aphorisms and observations soon became legend.

Franklin’s genius as a 16-year-old writer was obvious when he anonymously authored 14 essays that were published in his brother’s newspaper, creating the character Silence Dogood, a widowed woman. Franklin’s ability to speak convincingly as a woman was remarkable, and his writing style would introduce a new genre of American humor: the wry, homespun mix of folksy tales and pointed observations that would later be perfected by such great American writers and humorists as Mark Twain and Will Rogers.

Franklin became America's first gossip columnist.

Franklin became the patron saint of self-improvement guides by writing many personal credos that laid out his pragmatic rules for success. Dale Carnegie would follow in his footsteps, as well as hundreds of positive thinking, modern day self-improvement authors.

Franklin instigated the first recorded abortion debate in America, not because he had any strong feelings on the issue, but because he knew it would help sell newspapers.

Franklin was the consummate networker, forming a club of young workingmen he dubbed the Junto which met in a rented room, and by pooling the books of its members, became America’s first subscription library.

Franklin created a volunteer fire force (the forerunner of today’s volunteer fire department) and established the academy that would later be renamed the University of Pennsylvania.

Franklin was appointed to the top post office job in America by the British government. Within a year, he had cut to one day the delivery time of a letter from New York to Philadelphia. (The United States Postal Service manages to get the same letter delivered in an average of three days today!)

Franklin retired at age 42, with an assured income over the next 18 years of approximately 650 pounds annually; in his day, a common worker earned 25 pounds a year, so Franklin retired with an annual income 26 times a normal working person’s wages! (In today’s money, if you were making $50,000 a year in income, Franklin was getting by in retirement on an income of $1.3 million annually.)

Franklin loved to make money, and he loved the virtues of independence, self-reliance, hard work and innovation, all virtues associated with making a lot of money.

Franklin became America’s greatest diplomat by negotiating the support of France (its money, its recognition and its military support) that led to the success of the American Revolution, and the creation of the United States of America as an independent nation.

Franklin was instrumental in shaping the three great documents of the American Revolution: the Declaration of Independence, the alliance with France, and the treaty with England.

Franklin was the only person to sign all four of America’s founding papers: the Declaration of Independence, the treaty with France, the peace accord with Britain, and the Constitution of the United States.

Franklin’s most important vision was an American national identity based on the virtues and values of its middle class.

Franklin came up with the concept of matching grant money, showing how government and private initiative could be woven together for the common good.

Franklin was America’s first great publicist. He carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity.

Franklin perfected the art of poking fun at himself, recognizing that a bit of wry self-deprecation could make him seem even more endearing.

Franklin was the first to note that “nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”

Franklin was also the first to remind us that “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

Was Benjamin Franklin awesome? Absolutely.

Walter Issacson is a master of writing and there is much to be learned about writing by reading his biography of Franklin.  Issacson's masterpiece shows Franklin as the most influential person in inventing the type of society America would become.  I loved this book and consider it one of the four most important books I have read in the last 20 years.

February 12, 2007

Book Review:

It Is the Incredible Ending that Makes "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" Worth Reading

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

For anyone who has read Mitch Albom's book Tuesdays With Morrie, it was axiomatic to read The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Albom was asked why it took him so long between his first two books, he said "To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed by Tuesdays' success. At first, nobody wanted to publish that book or talk much about it.

"Then, suddenly, all anyone wanted me to do was write a sequel. I knew I didn't want to do that. I said everything in that book that I had to say about the last class between Morrie and me. So I waited until something inspired me the way that book did. It just happened to take six years."

When asked if anything Morrie had said led to the story line of "Five People" he revealed the fact that "Morrie often told a story about waves, and how when they hit the shore they ceased to exist—unless you realized that, in truth, they weren't really waves at all, they were part of the ocean.

"Morrie saw himself that way, as part of something connected to a bigger humanity. In the Five People, I sort of explore that idea, that we are all connected to each other in ways we don't even realize, and that perhaps, when your life is over, you may find out all the other 'waves' in this big ocean that you affected without even knowing it."

These insights show the integrity and sensitivity of Mitch Albom, who works for the Detroit Free Press and is arguably one of best sportswriters in the United States. His work in "Five People" shows flashes of his pure writing talent.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is the story of Eddie, a simple man living a simple life as a maintenance man who has a regret and an ache in his heart.

He spends his entire life berating himself because he never left the amusement park to pursue his dream of becoming an engineer. He blames everyone but himself for not getting on in the world. This is his regret, and he feels that his life has been wasted.

Eddie dies on his 83rd birthday while trying to save a little girl from a falling cart in a roller coaster ride gone bad, and develops an ache in his heart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his as he tries to pull the girl away—and then nothing.

He dies not knowing if he saved the girl’s life or not.

He awakens in Heaven and is destined to meet five people, loved ones (his wife Marguerite) and distant strangers who form a thread in his life that when woven into a fabric explain the meaning of his life.

The strangers—Blue Man, the Captain, Ruby and Tala—all played an important role in Eddie's life without his awareness and knowledge of their importance at the time.

Each person shares with Eddie a lesson in life that he failed to learn on Earth.

Albom's writing skills shine through in these memorable quotes from the five characters:

Ruby: "Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that by hating someone we hurt them. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do to others, we also do to ourselves."

Blue Man: "There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind."

Blue Man: "Strangers are family you have yet to come to know."

Marguerite (Eddie's wife who precedes him in death): "Lost love is still love, Eddie. It just takes a different form, that's all. You can't hold their hand, you can't tousle their hair. But when those senses weaken another one comes to life. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You hold it. You dance with it. Life has to end, Eddie. Love doesn't."

Be forewarned that The Five People You Meet in Heaven can and probably will bring tears to your eyes, and make your throat retract and become sore with tension. This book is not for children, even adults can hardly deal with it and attempt to understand the subject matter and significance of its message.

This book has an incredible ending that allows Eddie to finally understand the meaning of his life. I will not reveal the ending here, you must read the ending to earn its blessing.

This is an extremely complicated story. It forces us to examine our existence here on earth; however, the story is worth the effort if you have any spiritual development.

Albom's Tuesdays With Morrie was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 4 years. While The Five People You Meet in Heaven reached No. 1 on the same list, it is a much more difficult read to understand. This is why I write reviews. Unless many sing its praises, the voice of understanding may go silent. Silence is a void that would be unbearable.

Perhaps Albom's effort could reach even more readers if he was a philosopher as well as a writer. A writer like Albom can craft a beautiful sentence that a reader like me can appreciate. A philosopher can craft another sentence that immediately strikes a chord with nearly everyone.

Great poets often achieve this heartfelt effect, perhaps they are philosophers too.

I would read this book again, and was a better person for having read it the first time.

December 26, 2007

Was It Really Written in 1692?

"Desiderata" Is a Brilliant Piece of Writing with Simplicity and Significance of Message

(Ed's Note: When I first read "Desiderata" many years ago, I was struck by the simplicity and significance of its message. With all of the hustle and bustle at Christmas, New Year's and the holiday season, it seems more timely today than when it was supposedly written in 1692. Desiderata was thought to be found in Old Saint Paul's Church in Baltimore (MD). Imagine penning this brilliant piece of writing and never being recognized for your thought or work. The author was apparently unknown. We have now learned that Desiderata was in fact written by Max Ehrmann in 1927. Check out Snopes.com for the full story. If you are wondering, desiderata is plural for desideratum (Latin), for something that is needed or wanted: integrity was a desideratum.)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Read my movie reviews on families, including "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", "Secondhand Lions", "The Chorus (Les Choristes in French)" and "Waking Ned Devine". You will smile, laugh, cry and feel better for the experience. Don't just experience life, live life!

June 11,2007

Is it Poetry, Prose or Free Verse?

Play What You Haven't Lived, it Will Help You Live Your Life

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

A client and good friend of mine is Jim Tyler of Tacoma, WA. Jim works for living like most of us, but he also writes what some readers might describe as poetry, prose or free verse. Let me know how you react to Jim's latest effort. You can email me at: edbagley@comcast.net

"Play what you haven't lived, it will help you live your life"

In all of us we have so many endless thoughts,
Dreams, hopes and aspirations of we may have or have not.
Where for moments we can extend beyond what we can only feel,
And for a time our minds eye delivers us to something unreal.
That only our heart and spirit can take hold,
Of a youthful innocence that may unfold.

Where we as ones who have added many years,
May have forgotten about the happiness of some of our tears.
In times where we learn ourselves and deliver to others what we wish them to see,
Alters their perspective of what to them is really me.
And though I am not in any play or on any stage,
In life like you I play myself every single day.
Where I try to do it with a constant flair,
In reflecting Gods desire to show my genuine care.

So like me do you play what you have not lived,
Or are you holding back to others what you dare not give?
Time as always presents to us a measure,
Of those in our life we may hold as a brief treasure.
Where their luminescence within our heart remains,
And casual thoughts will bring their memory forward again.
And remember the time where I could hold them and be thankful they are my friend.

Copyright © 2007 Jim Tyler

Education:

January 31, 2011- Second Article

When Degrees Don't Mean Diddly-Squat in the Classroom

How a Teacher, With Some Personal Growth, Can Become an Educator

(Ed's Note: You ask, "What's wrong with education today?" Here's is one example of how personal growth – not professional growth (degrees, training, etc.) – by a teacher, not a student, could make things better.)

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.

However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.

In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big 'F' at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem, and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's.

His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy.

As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

Many things in life become outdated, however, random acts of kindness never do.

(Ed's Note: For you that would have no reason to know, Teddy Stoddard is a doctor at the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, the hospital with the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

November 10, 2010

If You Ever Wondered, Here Is the Difference Between a Teacher and an Educator

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.

'Ms. Cothren, where're our desks?'

She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'

They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades.'

'No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.'

She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.

By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms.Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came. The puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, and Martha Cothren said:

'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.

Twenty-seven United Statews veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The veterans began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall.

By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'

(Ed's Note: Amen, Martha, amen. Millions of veterans from wars on foreign soil, including myself, helped place those desks in that classroom.)

September 16, 2010

A Scary Future

Soon, All We Will Have That Cannot Be Changed Will Be Memories

(Ed's Note: With the way the world is changing, soon all we will have left are memories. Check out this scary story about what lies ahead for our children and grandchildren. I moved back into my cave a long time ago, which is why I do not even have a cell phone, must less an iPod, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, iTunes and whatever else techno magic is out there. They can keep it; I will read my hard cover and paperback books and die a contented man.)

Soon, all we will have that cannot be changed will be memories.

Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come:

1. The Post Office. Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. The United States Postal Service is so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain the enterprise long term.

Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The Check. Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with checks by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process checks. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the check.

This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper. The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man.

As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4. The Book. You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. The same thing was said about downloading music from iTunes. Some want a hard copy CD. But quickly changed their minds when they discovered that they could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music.

The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone. Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they have always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.

6. Music. This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem.

The record labels and the radio conglomerates simply self-destruct. Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalog items", meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. The older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, "Before the Music Dies."

7. Television. Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they're playing games and doing all lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV.

Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to most of it It's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.

8. The "Things" That You Own. Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing.

Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider.

In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this "stuff", or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?"

Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy. If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone. It's been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone.

But you can be sure that 24/7 "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. And "They" will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again!

Yes, all we will have that cannot be changed will be memories!

August 10, 2010 - 2nd Article

Humor:

Actual Comments by Teachers on Student Report Cards in New York City's Public School System

These are actual comments made on students' report cards by teachers in the New York City public school system. All of the teachers were reprimanded (but, boy, are these funny!).

1. Since my last report, your child has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.

2. I would not allow this student to breed.

3. Your child has delusions of adequacy.

4. Your son is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot (my favorite).

5. Your son sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

6. The student has a 'full six-pack' but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.

7. This child has been working with glue too much.

8. When your daughter's IQ reaches 50, she should sell.

9. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.

10. If this student were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week.

11. It's impossible to believe the sperm that created this child beat out 1,000,000 others.

12. The wheel is turning but the hamster is definitely dead.

March 10, 2010

Rude Is Indeed Crude

Are Good Manners Part of a Good Education? Absolutely! You Would Have to Be Really Insensitive to Think Otherwise

(Ed's Note: After reading this article by Peaco Todd, I wondered just how much email communication, which is voiceless and faceless, contributes to our willingness to do away with eyeball-to-eyeball contact, and the good manners it generates. People who used to have 5 close friends now have 1. All of the advances in technology are not creating good manners, and are also destroying the English language; you have only to listen to our children and grandchildren speak to know this. Peaco Todd is an affiliate professor for The Union Institute and University's online Bachelor of Arts program. She also is a syndicated cartoonist and author, and writes a football blog for ballhype.com. Find her work at www.peacotoons.com)

By Peaco Todd

This really IS about education. Stay with me here. A friend of mine is about to throw herself a lavish 30th birthday bash. She took care of everything: rented a hall, hired a band, sent out evites well head of time, arranged for the caterers and the disco ball, and plans to boogie the night, and her first three decades, away.

What she does not have is a clue about who intends to join her.

That is an exaggeration: she has something of a clue. Many of us have rsvp'd but some of the invitees simply linger in impenetrable silence despite several follow-up pleas for a general head count.

Their muteness basically suggests either: I'm coming but I just don't feel like making the effort to let you know; or I'm unable to attend but I just don't feel like making the effort to let you know. Either way, one thing is certain: not responding to an invitation from a friend is just plain rude.

Of course, these days "rude" is a relative term. Back in the day, when our society was more homogeneous (at least the prevailing class thereof) the rules of etiquette were more generally understood—they comprised a language of inclusion.

The increasing recognition of diverse cultures and their various mores has changed all that, in my opinion for the good. I am all for widening the range of what is considered socially acceptable, of looking beyond mannerisms to more genuine gestures of heart and spirit.

That said, is there something fundamental in what might be deemed "good" behavior, something that distinguishes superior character, of a person or an organization, regardless of the influences of money or background? I believe there is—I believe it has to do with respect.

In Malcolm Gladwell's fascinating book Outliers: The Story of Success, he describes an experimental public school in the South Bronx that, despite seemingly overwhelming disadvantages, has become notably successful. Entrance to the KIPP Academy (KIPP stands for "Knowledge is Power Program") is by lottery; residents of the borough are eligible but there are no entrance exams or other requirements.

A good percentage of this randomly selected student body comes from single-parent low-income families in which nobody has ever gone to college; their home environments are often minimal and their neighborhood dangerous. On the surface this would not seem to be a formula for success but the KIPP Academy turns such a calculation on its head.

The statistics are startling: by the time students reach 8th grade most are doing well in all their subjects and a staggering 84% are performing above grade level in math. KIPP students have long school days, substantial homework every night and most go to college and even beyond.

Hard work, however, is not the real story. Early on KIPP kids are taught a "protocol known as SSLANT: smile, sit up, listen, ask questions, nod when being spoken to, and track with your eyes" (p. 251). It is clear that what the KIPP Academy nurtures is a culture of respect.

Students respect their teachers and in turn experience respect—from their teachers, administrators, fellow students and ultimately for themselves and their potential. They respect the opportunity they've been given and express this understanding by working hard, showing up and being present. They respect what a college degree can mean for them and for their families.

You might say that in terms of their educational experience, KIPP students have good manners.

One of the several definitions of respect is "to pay due attention". Good manners are not about knowing what to do with the fish fork or learning how to fake social graces. At heart, good manners involve looking outward rather than inward, attempting to understand, and respond to, another's experience.

Respectful behavior is the opposite of bullying, cheating and entitlement. Good manners embody concern for the comfort and well being of others. Respect grows from the nurturance of an appreciative spirit.

Respectful behavior—the skill of paying due attention—can be taught and encouraged, in the school environment as well as at home. It can become a foundation for personal power: the power to achieve, to grow, to be a positive influence.

If it becomes a skill that is valued, then we might see a very different manner of social, and political, discourse. Rudeness might not be tolerated as it is now. Expressions of gratitude might become commonplace.

Companies might consider it important to send at least a polite no-thanks to applicants instead of dropping their resumes into a black hole of silence. People might notice, and care more, about each other and about themselves. Bullying and other forms of persecution might diminish. And my friend would not be left wondering how many chicken wings to order for her big bash.

September 20, 2009 - Second Article

Guest Article:

A 50-Year History on Why American Students Are So Poor in Learning Math

(Ed's Note: This is an attempt to show why American students do so poorly in learning math compared to students from other countries around the world. Many countries have much higher, more demanding standards of learning that generate better results. We demand less and dumb down the task; it's an American educator's way of trying to improve test scores.)

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register.

I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:

1) Teaching Math in the1950s:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

2) Teaching Math in the 1960s:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3) Teaching Math in the 1970s:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4) Teaching Math in the 1980s:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5) Teaching Math in the 1990s:

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate, and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok.)

6) Teaching Math in 2009:

Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Yes, we have come a long way in teaching math—from somewhere to nowhere.

April 11, 2009

Lessons in Life

Economics Professor Fails an Entire Class So His Students Will Learn About Socialism

(Ed's Note: There is a huge difference between a teacher and an educator. This article floating around the Internet demonstrates the difference by applying book learning to a real life model.)

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.

All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

But, as the 2nd test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too, so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail.

The reason socialism would ultimately fail is because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away, no one will eventually try or want to succeed.

An explanation and demonstration of a socialist society could not be any simpler.

July 21, 2008

Social Commentary:

In an Educational Bureaucracy, It Is Hard to Weed Out Incompetence

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

My level of being appalled rose dramatically the other day; fortunately, my blood pressure remained the same. The cause of this happening was an editorial in USA Today (7-17-08) titled the "Teacher Protection Racket".

Seems that the chancellor of New York City's school system—Joel Klein—has been busy trying to weed out incompetent teachers so the students will have more effective teachers. After a year's effort, Chancellor Klein has managed to rid the system of exactly 8 teachers among the city's 55,000 teachers. Trust me when I say that it was not an easy task. Here is why:

Each firing required an average of 25 days of hearings and 150 hours of principal time, and each firing cost the school system $225,000, or a total of $1.8 million to fire 8 teachers.

If you have ever wondered why clearly incompetent teachers are allowed to continue to teach in schools, you have just learned 3 of the reasons why. There is really little incentive to get rid of them.

Chancellor Klein has the audacity to believe that outstanding teachers are the single most important factor in turning around struggling schools. Teacher unions vehemently disagree with his assessment.

It is the unions that take an oath to defend to the death incompetent, lazy and bored teachers. Years of inept contract bargaining at the district level matched by years of effective union lobbying has produced a system where all of the power lies with the accused teacher.

In effect, protecting inept union members has become far more important than properly educating our children. So much for unions and their positive effect on our educational system. In may be an exaggeration, but we are also seeing pedophile teachers popping up like weeds in the schoolyard.

Just exactly how much protection do incompetent, illegal or out-of-control teachers need? I am so glad you asked. The answer is not nearly as much as they are getting from the unions that represent and protect them.

Are we to assume, for example, that just because pedophile teachers are horny, we are obliged to satisfy their needs in a school setting with our innocent children? I was not aware that we were educating our teachers to teach our children how to have sex with them. Incompetent teachers do not add much to the equation either.

The bottom line is that our children are not getting adequately educated by incompetent, illegal or out-of-control teachers, much less properly educated to make their way in the world.

Why is it, Merrimon Cuninggim has asked, that "the teaching profession is the only profession that has no definition for malpractice?" Merrimom Cuninggim, a minister and educator who brought a fine sense of ethics to his work, asks an excellent question.

There is one huge reason why those who would perpetuate and defend teachers in public education would actively work to destroy teachers in private education. That reason is that teacher unions will not tolerate any system that would rate or reward teachers so incompetent teachers could be more easily identified and purged from the system.

The union idea is that if there is never any accountability or responsibility for teacher actions, it then becomes more difficult to hold them to standards, or discipline them for not meeting professional standards. In other words, all teachers are equal in the eyes of the union, that is, they are all wonderful, worth defending to the death, and beyond any criticism worth mentioning.

All of this is compounded by a study that showed that teacher performance evaluations can be meaningless. In Chicago, only 3 of every 1,000 teachers get an unsatisfactory rating, and about 90% of teachers get top ratings. Do I need to even point out that Chicago is one of nation's most troubled urban districts?

And if all of this is not enough to crush our educational system under its own bureaucratic weight, there is always the card in the deck that trumps all others—the victim card. Yes, victimization is everywhere.

For incompetent, illegal or lazy teachers, to all of the support groups in the educational system that support and defend them, every teacher, everywhere that is under any hint of scrutiny seems to be a victim of some kind. No teacher is apparently responsible or accountable for anything. Welcome to the public education system in America.

Why should any teacher in America be responsible or accountable or held to a standard of performance? Some would have us believe that all educational problems, as well as virtually every event know to man—from 9-11 to global warming to pregnant girls to weak financial markets to incompetent teachers—can be easily blamed on someone else.

Read more of my outrageous Social Commentary—because it is good—on other hot topics in my Lessons in Life link, including:

"Should We Be Concerned About the Apparent Violence of Our Children?

"A Disturbing Trend in Our Society – The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions"

"Is Black Liberation Theology Really Helping African Americans?"

"Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America – The First Is Abortion"

"The Nation's Supreme Court Actually Makes a Correct Constitutional Decision"

June 29, 2008

Lessons in Life:

Herein You Will Learn the Difference Between a Teacher and an Educator

(Editor's Note: This has been floating around the Internet and is simply too good to pass up, so I am posting it here for your enjoyment and edification.)

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

A private school in Washington was recently faced with a unique problem.

A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips on the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Every night the maintenance man would remove them, and the next day the girls would put them back. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done.

She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night (you can imagine all the yawns from the little princesses).

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it.

Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers, and then there are educators.

May 3, 2007

You Be the Judge

At What Point Does a Student's Rights End, and the University's Rights Begin When Awarding Degrees?

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

The headline looked common enough: School Sued Over MySpace Photo Response.

It appeared affixed to an Associated Press story posted online by comcast.net recently.

Apparently a woman was denied a teaching degree on the eve of graduation because she published her picture captioned "Drunken Priate" on her MySpace.

The photo, apparently taken at a 2005 Halloween party, showed Stacy Snyder wearing a pirate hat while drinking from a plastic "Mr. Goodbar" cup.

Jane Bray, dean of the School of Education at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania, took exception to Snyder's photo, accusing Snyder of promoting underage drinking.

Although Snyder apologized, she learned the day before graduation that she would not be awarded an education degree or teaching certificate. Snyder was instead granted a degree in English last year.

Snyder, who is now 27 and reportedly works as a nanny, has sued Millersville University, seeking $75,000 in damages.

All of this raises some interesting questions about how this legal action will play out in court if it gets that far.

This story caught my attention because I had been chair of a board of directors for 9 years at a private school, a 20-year veteran in the news business, an editor of a daily newspaper, and a publisher of a newspaper property.

Here are some of my thoughts on the significance of this news event.

1) Was Stacy Snyder intentionally trying to promote underage drinking? I doubt it.

She did apologize for her apparent indiscretion, but it was not enough to ensure her the education degree and teaching certificate she thought she had earned.

I do not know how Pennsylvania handles its education students, but I suspect that the education degree would come from the university and the initial teaching certificate would come from the state.

To say she was looking for some attention in publishing her MySapce photo might be an understatement. As a potential teacher in a public or private school, I doubt any school board or school superintendent would be impressed by her sense of judgment, regardless of her motive.

It takes more than good intentions to be a good role model as a teacher, it takes good actions and good decisions as well. Clearly, Stacy Snyder's apparent actions were neither consequence free or well timed. The exuberance of youth is sometimes only exceeded by its stupidity.

You could say that Jane Bray, the dean of the School of Education at Millersville, might be very conservative in her views. You could also say that she has some standards of expected behavior that will be enforced.

2) I am not sure there is anything stopping Stacy Snyder from applying for an initial teaching certificate from the State of Pennsylvania, assuming that it is the state that grants teaching certificates and not the university. Perhaps Pennsylvania might be a little more forgiving of Snyder's stupidity.

3) Snyder could enroll in another qualified college or university and seek to get an education degree. Schools of higher learning love income and all schools do not have the same standards, for education or issuing degrees.

4) If Synder's suit has any legs to stand on, she should be suing for a lot more money if this incident has destroyed her teaching career. Perhaps for $750,000 or $1.75 million. As a teacher in today's public education system, it is not unreasonable to assume her income may reach one of those levels should she teach for the next 30 or 35 years. After all, inflation doubles about every 20 to 22 years.

5) Synder has perhaps learned a valuable lesson about instant communication in today's world. When someone says an insignificant story can go around the world in 8 seconds, they are not exaggerating. A significant story may even travel faster and be seen by millions more viewers.

6) It would be easy to postulate but difficult to accurately predict about how much Synder's photo might negatively influence the generations of children in the present and future.

Such speculation does remind me of Ronald Reagan's answer as to why he was not working harder as President. As I recall Reagan said I have been told that working hard will not kill you, but I figure why take chances?

7) Freedom of speech is a guaranteed right in the 1st Amendment to our United States Constitution. While this is so, freedom of speech does not allow one to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, so our freedom of speech does tend to stop when that freedom needlessly endangers our fellow citizens.

So much for Stacy Snyder.

What about Jane Bray and Millersville University?

1) Does a university have the power and the right to determine to whom it will award degrees? I think so.

Perhaps the question is, does the standards at this university include a written, published standard of behavior as well as a standard of performance in learning and testing? I not have a clue if that is the case at Millersville University, but I seriously suspect that it is so.

Otherwise, there might not be any basis for Jane Bray's decision not to award an education degree to Stacy Snyder. Perhaps Bray found Snyder's behavior to be unseemly for a professional teacher who is educated at Millersville University.

Snyder certainly has the right to post whatever pictures she wants on her MySpace website.

MySpace certainly has the right to take away her website if it does not meet the posting standards for MySpace website users. MySpace has the right to control its online business space.

Millersville University is, according to its Internet website, a public liberal arts university. The University certainly has a right to set and enforce educational standards in awarding degrees.

Does Millersville University have the right to set and enforce behavioral standards in awarding degrees? I think this a very good and pertinent question. The answer might well depend upon whether the University has written and published standards of behavior, and the evidence to show that students have agreed to and accept those standards in exchange for the right to earn a degree.

Exactly where does Synder's personal rights end and the University's rights begin?

Synder is paying for a service, the available educational training and knowledge to earn a degree by meeting the University's standards of performance. Does that standard include behavioral as well as educational performance?

Does Snyder's personal actions off campus constitute any more or less of an egregious breach of behavior than on campus? Would the University's authority in this matter carry more weight if Snyder were a student on campus rather than off campus?

A statement issued by Millersville University on its website today denied the claims alleged by Ms. Stacy Snyder and also said this:

"Due to federal student privacy restrictions, the University is unable to directly respond to media accounts related to the case. The University notes, however, that all of its educational decisions are based on a full range of academic performance issues, not solely on a student's personal website or social networking site."

Yikes! I am glad I do not have to defend Millersville University in this case. I would instantly be looking for a new attorney team.

I think I understand the University's position and why it merits some serious consideration in a court of law.

Should Snyder prevail in her suit against Millersville University, what sort of Web-published photos might we expect to see among future students?

This might play itself out in a court of law because we are a republic and not a democracy.

In a democracy, Stacy Snyder might have virtually no chance of success. Her complaint might easily be voted against by a majority interested in maintaining certain standards of credibility.

In a republic, Snyder's chances improve immensely because the law is no respecter of majority rule.

In the law are rights that exceed the limits of our imagination, and sometimes even our stupidity.

Education:

August 1, 2010

It's Time to Speak Out

A High School Principal's Unique Approach to Education in America – In Essence, Let's Knock Off the Divisiveness and Start Learning

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

This article has been circulating the Internet and could be titled "A High School Principal's Unique Approach to Education".

Let me say that it is doubtful that any high school principal in America wrote this letter to his or her students, their parents, and the school's faculty and staff. I say this because the original copy floating around was not educated and literate enough to be written by a high school principal.

It is also not on the radar screen at Snopes.com as of 7-30-10, so I cannot verify its authenticity. For the sake of literacy, I have edited this message to upgrade its credibility and acceptance.

That said, there are observations being made here that should be said publicly.

Perhaps I say this because I am 66 years old, have served in a major war to protect our freedoms as Americans, and do not agree with four character traits that have become more prevalent in our society today.

I am referring to a lack of responsibility, a lack of accountability, a lack of patriotism by putting self before our country, and the tendency to be more self-centered and self-absorbed than other-centered.

Here is the article that caught my attention:

A High School Principal's Unique Approach to Education

To the students, parents, faculty and staff of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to share with you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America in the recent past have worked against you, against your teachers, and against our country.

First, we will no longer emphasize race or ethnicity at this school. I do not care if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I do not care if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower, or on slave ships.

The identity I really care about, the one this school will focus on, is your character, your scholarship, and your humanity.

The only national identity this school will focus on is being an American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to help immigrants become Americans, and to make the Americans born here become better Americans.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will henceforth end all ethnic, race, and non-American, nationality-based celebrations. These celebrations undermine the motto of America and one of its three central values -- e pluribus unum, "from many, one."

And this school will be guided by America's values that should be common to all Americans, and not be lulled into creating special interest groups to celebrate our unique differences.

America is and should be a melting pot into which all ingredients are added to develop a distinctly American dish that can feed all who come to her table.

These changes will include all after-school clubs. I will henceforth not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities such as race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness to the detriment of our country.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, and not on blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Too many clubs in the past have cultivated narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself.

So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, trade skills such as carpentry and more.

If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are based on your ethnic, racial or sexual identity, you are far more self-absorbed and self-centered than other-centered. You need to get beyond yourself and become an educated, literate, well-rounded person who serves others as much or more than yourself.

Second, I am happy for you if you can speak another language other than English, but we are not going to change our educational system to accommodate you should you not be interested in learning to become fluent in the English language.

English is the primary language of America, and you will be expected to learn the English language and use it as your primary language when living here in America. We will make it our business and your business to teach you the English language.

The English language has become a common denominator that has united America 's citizens for more than 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country.

Should you graduate from this school without excellent English language skills, we will be remiss in our duty to successfully prepare you to compete in the American job market.

We encourage learning other languages at this school, but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not the school for you.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward.

Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school. Individual expression in your style of clothes may be important to you, but it will not be tolerated under our dress code.

We will focus on recognizing your individual initiative through your work ethic, interest in learning, learning the materials being taught, retaining the materials, and then applying what you learn. Our focus will be on your academic achievement, and your achievements through additional enhanced offerings including music, the arts and athletics.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways, or at athletic events.

If you cannot speak without using the f-word, you cannot speak up to our standards, and the standards in a civilized, educated, literate society. Cussing is a sign of a low self-image, and we will encourage and anticipate the development of your self-confidence, self-worth and self-image. Cussing is never appropriate.

By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus derogatory names such as the n-word, even when used by one black student to address another black student, or the b-word, even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. Because you happen to be of a particular race does not mean you are allowed to use cuss words to address one another.

It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few in your peer group who will be educated, literate and self-confident enough in your abilities, skills and potential development to understand that cussing, street talk and rapping really have no place in an educated, literate society among successful people.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs that are created to give special attention to you because of your particular race, ethnic origin or religious preference. We will not be catering to your individual needs and demands for special attention because you are Christian, Jewish or Muslim.

You will earn respect by giving respect, not by demanding respect. We will not be having 10 valedictorians to honor the top achievers among students of a certain race, ethnic group, religious belief, or students of special needs. We will have one valedictorian based on academic achievement.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to showering you with scare tactics about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming.

No more class time will be spent on teaching you how to put on a condom, or learning about sexual relations as our only, or primary, health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, not heterosexual or not Christian.

We will have failed if any one of you graduates from this school and does not consider him or herself blessed to be alive in a free nation and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag" of our country. Those of you who do not know the words, raise your hand, and your teacher will be handing out a copy of the words for you.

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Each of you will be given a copy of my address to you today. I know that change is not easy, but I will expect and appreciate your cooperation in implementing these changes. And yes, we will be enforcing these changes whether you agree with them or not.

You are here to learn, not to create your own individual version of America to the exclusion of other Americans who were here and established this great country and nation long before you arrived.

You will now be dismissed in an orderly fashion. Pay attention to your teacher's signal for you to leave and return to your classroom.

July 15, 2009

Why Being a Public School Teacher Is Not a Piece of Cake

After being interviewed by school administrators, a prospective teacher said:

"Let me see if I've got this right.

"You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

"You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

"You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

"You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

"You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

"You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

"You want me to do all this and then you tell me, I can't pray?"

(Ed's Note: The culprits in this scenario, of course, are not the schools or their administrators as much as the majority of justices on the U. S. Supreme Court that decided to kick God out of the educational system in America. The justices who decided that the framers of the U. S. Constitution meant to kick God out of education will themselves be judged in due time. Imagine these few majority minds alone among our 300-plus-million population who decided they had more to offer than God's presence in our educational system. I would not want to be any one of them, standing in front of God and explaining just how smart they are.)

December 2, 2008

An Eerie History Lesson

The Lincoln-Kennedy Coincidences

Editor's Note: The Internet has unleashed a veritable fountain of information and misinformation as well as filthy pictures, gossip, lies and tasteless commentary. Here is an interesting entry on some facts from history. I will not be researching these facts to see if they are all true, or just part of a compelling piece of writing. I highly recommend that after reading this article you click on the following link to find out the truth:

http://www.snopes.com/history/american/lincoln-kennedy.asp

Consider these historical facts:

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost a child while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.

Now it gets really weird.

Lincoln 's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln .

Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.

Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

Now hang on to your seat.

Lincoln was shot at the theater named 'Ford'.
Kennedy was shot in a car called ' Lincoln ' made by 'Ford'.

Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

And here's the kicker...

A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.

February 22, 2008

Catholic Education - Why It Is Better and Less Expensive than Public Education – Part 1

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Both of my children benefited from Catholic education through the 8th grade before moving on to the public school system in our community. Neither of them liked nor enjoyed their high school experience, and both of them graduated as very average students.

Neither of them earned a college degree. My daughter earned some community college credits and received very good grades. My son took a 2-year technical curriculum and graduated with a diploma in automotive maintenance, but would not take the few academic courses to earn an associate degree.

I never really fussed with them about getting a college degree or getting good grades during their formal education, even though their aunts and uncles included 2 college professors, 1 nationally-known physician, a computer programming expert, and a national marketing manager for a major corporation.

I myself am a former newspaper editor, publisher and media property owner, and my wife is a schoolteacher. It was never in my heart to ride my children like Seabiscuit for better grades and college degrees. As it has turned out, it apparently did not matter in the greater scheme of things.

My son just turned 30 and is a very successful businessman making a ton of money. My daughter is 32 and a banker (loan sales rep) with a major bank. The fact that both of them have become successful, well-adjusted adults and parents without having a college degree or getting good grades going through school may come as a surprise to some people.

While it does not hurt to come from a good gene pool, I attribute their success thus far in life to their first 9 years (K-8) of Catholic education at Holy Family School in Lacey, WA. My wife taught at Holy Family when our children were there, and I was a member of its Board of Directors and chairperson of its Board for 9 years.

What my children received from their public school education was an academic education. What they received from their Catholic school education was an academic education, a religious education and a moral education.

They do not depend upon our government at any level to support them or make them successful. They understand and appreciate the fact that any success they may have in life will be because they take personal responsibility for their thinking, their attitude, their effort and their actions and are thus accountable for any success they enjoy.

In our family we may favor one candidate over another to be our next president of the United States, but we know that whoever becomes president has absolutely no effect on our becoming and remaining successful in life.

We categorically refuse to be dependent upon our government, politicians or bureaucrats for our success; this could well explain why we are successful.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a 4-Part Article.)

Read my other opinion articles on "Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America – The First Is Abortion", "A Disturbing Trend in Our Society – The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions" and "The Biggest Scam in the Credit Reporting Industry Screams Deception and Greed."<br><br>

My articles can be published with no charge by newsletters, newspapers and magazines through EzineArticles.com, the largest articles directory on the Internet with 80,000+ authors and 982,000+ articles.

February 23, 2008

Catholic Education – When It Comes to Learning Environment, You Reap What You Sow – Part 2

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

I believe a Catholic education is better and less expensive than a public school education. Here are 2 salient reasons why:

1) Public schools must open their doors to all children by law. They must provide for the very brightest of students with excellent study habits, for the most disadvantaged of students with profound learning disabilities, for the most disadvantaged of students from low-income, government-dependent families, and for the most unlucky of students whose parents have horrific and destructive habits, including alcohol, drug and sex addictions as well as being sometimes unemployed, lazy and stupid.

If you think having to admit any and all levels of students raises a school's average student SAT scores and associated test scores you are dead wrong.

Catholic schools are generally not set up to deal with students with extraordinary problems; they probably do not have, for example, a special education program and the staffing to support it.

Catholic schools do not have to admit any or all students who apply; they can test students and only admit those students without significant problems. This is why average test scores at Catholic schools will always be significantly higher than in public education schools.

2) Parents who send their children to Catholic schools pay all of the taxes that other parents pay to send their children to public schools, and they also pay the tuition required at Catholic schools, which is a significant investment that could amount to thousands of dollars more every year.

With this kind of monetary commitment from Catholic school parents, you can bet that when there is a problem with their child and the principal calls their parents, a parent is on the school doorstep quick time. Students get straightened out in a hurry by their parents.

Parents and teachers are generally both on the same page in Catholic schools, not allowing the student involved to play one against the other.

Catholic school parents know that if their child becomes a troublemaker because of attitude or behavioral problems, he or she can be kicked out of school or expelled in a heartbeat, and never be allowed to return.

Snotty, bratty, nasty, naughty, abusive, uncooperative children are shown the door so learning can continue to take place in a positive, upbeat, friendly, healthy environment. There are no guns, no alcohol, no drugs, no fighting and no filthy language allowed on campus. Period. Comply or be gone. Be good or be gone.

It is no revelation why the learning environment is more productive and the students are more protected from a liberal, secular progressive society that has all but eliminated God, discipline, accountability and manners from public school education. You reap what you sow.

Public school teachers and administrators cannot discipline children, cannot hold children accountable, cannot touch children and are required to practically parent and baby-sit some students, and we wonder why children do not perform as well in public schools.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a 4-Part Article.)

Read my other opinion articles on "Facts About the Second Most Controversial Topic in America – The First Is Abortion", "A Disturbing Trend in Our Society – The Lack of Trust in Our Institutions" and "The Biggest Scam in the Credit Reporting Industry Screams Deception and Greed."

My articles can be published with no charge by newsletters, newspapers and magazines through EzineArticles.com, the largest articles directory on the Internet with 80,000+ authors and 982,000+ articles.

February 24, 2008

Catholic Education – Thoughts About Children and Facts About Catholic Education Outcomes – Part 3

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Some wise people had these comments about children:

Norman Douglas: If you want to see what children can do, you must stop giving them things.

Malcolm Forbes: Re raising kids: Love, without discipline, isn't.

Robert Heinlein: Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.

Art Buck: How soon do we forget what elders used to know: That children should be raised, not left like weeds to grow.

Catholic schools tend to have a stronger sense of community, high academic standards and a committed faculty. Students are disciplined and orderly. Academic achievement is notable among all students, minorities and non-minorities.

A 1990 RAND study of Catholic schools and public schools in New York City that has stood the test of time highlights the educational outcomes. Nina Shokraii-Rees summarized the differences:

1) Catholic high schools graduated 95% of their students each year; the public schools graduated only slightly more than 50% of their senior classes.

2) More than 66% of the Catholic school graduates received the New York Regents diploma; only about 5% of the public school students received that distinction.

3) Catholic school students achieved an average combined SAT I score of 803; the average combined SAT I score for public school students was 642.

4) Sixty percent of African-American Catholic students scored above the national average for African-American students on the SAT I; less than 30% of public school African-American students scored above the average.

Even when the selectivity bias of leaving the worst-performing and worst-behaved students in public schools was taken into account, African-American and Hispanic students attending urban Catholic schools are more than twice as likely to graduate from college as their counterparts in public schools.

Another later study by Paul Peterson of Harvard University and the Hoover Institute, and Herbert Walberg of the University of Illinois compared the costs and performance of students in 88 public and 77 Catholic elementary and middle schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Peterson and Walberg found that Catholic schools are at least twice as efficient and their students perform better on state tests.

To ensure a fair comparison, Peterson and Walberg deducted all expenditures that did not have a private school counterpart, including all monies spent on transportation, special education, school lunch and associated bureaucratic functions.

After removing all of those expenditures—which represented nearly 40% of the cost of running the New York City public schools—the analysis showed public schools still spent more than $5,000 per pupil each year, compared to $2,400 spent by Catholic schools.

The test scores were equally revealing. Even excluding test scores by special education students, and making adjustments for race and ethnicity, Catholic schools outperformed public schools on state-administered math and reading tests.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 3 of a 4-Part Article.)

February 26, 2008

Catholic Education – Why Throwing Money at Education Makes Very Little Sense – Part 4

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Clearly, Catholic school students outperform public school students at every turn and are educated for less than half the cost of public school students. This is why Catholic education is better and less expensive than public school education.

I believe that if you paid every public school teacher in America at least $100,000 a year for their services, the outcomes for public school students would be essentially the same because of the systemic problems in public education. Teachers would make more money but students would be no better educated.

That is why throwing money at education makes about as much sense as using dollar bills to light a fireplace.

Because of my prior affiliation with Holy Family School in Lacey (WA), I was pleased to see this letter to the school by Jason Oliveria from the Diocese of Stockton (CA):

"From January 23-25, 2008 I had the pleasure of serving as a team chairperson for an accreditation visit at Holy Family School in Lacey, WA. I was serving on behalf of the Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA), in conjunction with the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS).

"During the three-day visit, the visiting team found Holy Family School to be an exemplary learning institution. The students at Holy Family are thriving in an environment highly conducive to learning, and the principal and staff are top-notch and faithfully committed to their work.

"This was not my first go-around as a visiting team chair, and I always make it a point during a visit to ask myself the question, would I send my children to this school? In the case of Holy Family, my answer would be a resounding YES!

"I would like to thank the administration, Father Edward, parents and students of Holy Family for their warm hospitality during my visit to the Pacific Northwest.

"The school is an amazing place, and I encourage anyone considering Catholic education for their children to look closely at Holy Family School, you will not be disappointed."

There are more non-Catholic students and minority students attending Catholic schools today than in years past, but the quality and cost effectiveness of Catholic education has not changed. You cannot find a greater bargain than Catholic schools in educating children.

(Editor's Note: This is Part 4 of a 4-Part Article.)

February 20, 2008

News and Comment:

Saint Martin's University: A Catholic Treasure Hidden in the Pacific NW

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Hidden among the evergreens in the great Pacific Northwest is Saint Martin's College, a Benedictine university in the Catholic tradition. As a resident of Lacey, Washington (the state, not DC) I drive by this hidden treasure daily.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a beautiful 320-acre wooded campus, and had proven to be a magnet for students of wealthy families from Asian countries and associated families and countries around the world.

Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains.

It is amazing how many great universities there are in this country that remain relatively unknown because of their size and population. Perhaps even less known are the staff members who teach the students.

I was reminded of this the other day upon learning that Tapas Das, an adjunct faculty member of Saint Martin’s University School of Engineering, has been named the recipient of the Development Organization for Sustainable Transformation (DOST) Professor S. K. Sharma Medal and CHEMCON Distinguished Speaker Award for 2007.

The Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers recently conferred the award upon Das to recognize his contributions to the profession of chemical engineering worldwide.

Das received the award last month at the Chemical Engineering Congress (CHEMCON 2007) in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), India, where he delivered the lecture, “Environmental Sustainability: Key Roles of Chemical Engineers” to an international audience of the world's leading chemical engineers.

Tapas Das is a doctor of philosophy and professional engineer. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Bradford University in England and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Jadavpur University in Kolkata.

He has conducted postdoctoral research at the Chemical Engineering Department of Imperial College in London, and the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department of Princeton University.

With an expertise in environmental sustainability, Das has managed engineering projects examining air quality, water quality, water reuse, solid waste management, life-cycle assessment and sustainable development.

Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and 6 graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering.

Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its 5 extension campuses located at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, Olympic College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College, all located in the State of Washington.

Additional information on Saint Martin's College is available through Jennifer Fellinger at (360) 438-4332 if you are calling within the United States.

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