Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sermon illustrations I'd rather not hear

....yet have regrettably heard too often.  They belong to the genre of "sappy story that will guilt you into good works" (or not), and two of the worst are (a) the story of the little boy who is going to give blood to his sister and thinks they're going to drain him and (b) the story of the bridge operator forced by circumstances to crush his own son in the machinery to save a train full of passengers.

Now one would hope that "guilt you into good works" would die for that reason alone, as the good works only last as long as the guilt does--maybe a few days, really.  But no such luck, and hence we need to appeal to the question of whether the stories are true.

And they almost certainly are not, sad to say, and we really ought to spot this more readily.  For both stories, we can start with the fact that there is no journalistic record of either event--are we to believe that such a "good story" went unreported?

Regarding the first, the story is generally told that the child is "wheeled" into the room, and that the tube goes from donor to recipient.  Now speaking as a guy with 15 gallon pins, it's not how it's done--never has been and never will be. You never take from a child because he'd need a transfusion afterwards, and since you only need to match blood type and Rh factor, you don't need a tight donor match like you do for kidneys, hearts, and such.  You never need a family match for a blood transfusion.  It's also important that the person walk to the donation, because if he can't, you've got to assume that he's not healthy enough to donate.

Plus, you need to test the blood for disease, measure how much you've taken, and finally you need some pressure to carry the blood from the bag to the recipient, typically about 100mm Hg or a rise of about 1 meter.  That's why transfusion blood goes on the same stand with the other IV solutions.  You can't just put a tube between two people and hope all goes well. 

The second story is as much nonsense as the first for a very simple factor; it is the bridge operator who signals that the line is clear after he closes the bridge.  So if he sees someone in the machinery, he does nothing, the signal remains red, the train stops, and no one gets hurt.  And if a train should ignore the signals, there is nothing the operator can do because closing the bridge takes minutes.  It's been this way since the 19th century--it's why you will to this day see a telegraph line beside many railroad tracks.

Hopefully this will help some dear brothers and sisters in Christ take a stand against emotional blackmail as a sermon tool.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Can you blame her?

Apparently, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg had a few drinks before going to the SOTU speech, and nodded off under the influence.  Can't say as I blame her, and it's worth noting that now, even liberals must tie one on to cope with the imbecility coming from the White House.  It took them a few years to figure out what those "smart pills" really are, but hey, they're finally catching on.

That said, there isn't enough wine in the world to cope with Obama's response to the murders in a kosher deli in Paris; he made the claim that it was just people who "randomly shot a bunch of folks in Paris".   No, Mr. President, the perpetrator chose that location because he wanted to kill Jews.  His asinine statement--to paraphrase his wife--really makes me say

For the first time in my life, I am embarrassed to be an American.

Not that my country is perfect, or ever has been, but if the President is able to say what he said without embarrassment, and persuade two prominent members of his staff to repeat that b******* nonsense, we are in a load of trouble these days.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ignorance and Corruption

Yesterday, I read a wonderful column by Michelle Malkin where she decries Michelle Obama's campaign against foods including "cheese dust" because it seems that the Obamas earned hundreds of thousands of dollars on the board of "Tree House Foods", a manufacturer of things like store brand macaroni and cheese.

Now on one level, Mrs. Obama's rant is hilarious because cheese dust is, indeed, food.  Specifically, if you look at the label of foods containing it, it's powdered whey, the same kind of thing used on protein drinks and those "muscle milk" canisters that GNC and others make a mint selling.  It's also the same stuff used to make baby formula that is pushed so hard by WIC.   Not only is it food, but it's also a dairy product, high in protein, but without high levels of butterfat.  Admitting quibbles over whether low fat diets actually are healthy, it's right up the power alley of a lot of dieticians.  They'd tell us that it's not only food, but also good food.

A byproduct of cheese making, it's historically fed to pigs, and hence one might also infer that it may also be more environmentally responsible--adding a pound of muscle to a pig to get pork protein takes more than a pound of whey, after all, and hog production is known to have some deleterious (and hilarious) side effects.

But instead of doing the hard work of "reading the label" and spending ten minutes learning that "cheese dust" is indeed a healthy part of many foods we eat, Mrs. Obama and her daughter, oblivious to the fact that curds are not whey, decided to try to pulverize an innocent piece of cheddar.

And that brings me to the "corruption" issue.  Mrs. Obama, despite apparently not having enough expertise in food preparation to read the first few words of the ingredients list, just happened to be elected to Tree House's board just after her husband was elected to the Senate.

One wonders what Tree House did between 2005 and now to earn Mrs. Obama's ire.  Maybe they didn't contribute enough to Barack's reelection fund, and hence she's leveraging her complete lack of expertise in food to wedge them out of a business that keeps a lot of people fed.  And don't forget for a minute; the drive to "improve" school lunches and childhood nutrition is being led by a woman who apparently cannot read a list of ingredients. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Yet another reason I homeschool

Check out these social studies questions from Wisconsin--theoretically one of the top five states in the nation for educational achievement.  It's supposed to be a test on recognizing different political movements, but really ought to be named "how to stereotype and ignore the real issues."

One would figure that teachers would at least get their own political persuasion right, instead of a pitiful caricature, but apparently not.  And one would also figure that a teacher who had spent some time in Madison during college ought at least to quote Marx correctly in questions about Marxism, but that dream is dashed on the hard rocks of reality (near Superior I believe, or perhaps in the Dells) as well.

If that's as good as public education gets, I think I'll keep homeschooling, thank you very much.

Thoughts on the Brian Williams debacle

Apparently, servicemen who flew Brian Williams around Iraq are speaking up about his stories of being there, telling little subtle facts such as his helicopter was not hit by an RPG, which carries sufficient explosive power to destroy a tank.  In other words, if his helicopter had actually been hit by an RPG, he most likely wouldn't have been around to talk about it.

In other fiction served up by Mr. Williams, he apparently made up a slew of stories surrounding his experience--or non-experience as it were--reporting the results of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Now that last part catches my eye, as there are any number of people in the media who were around Mr. Williams in both cases who could have, and should have, told the truth.  The fact that they did not until now suggests that media bias is not an accident. It is a culture of deception. 

And given that the reporting on the Katrina disaster arguably was a great part in giving Congress to the Democrats in 2006, I have to wonder if there was an intentional effort there.  Now I don't have any "smoking gun" documents, but it certainly was a nice little coincidence that dozens of people all decided not to tell the world that Williams' account was, to put it politely, fertilizer, wasn't it?

What are we trying to achieve?

One good comment I received--OK, THE comment I received--about redefining teaching about modesty is the notion that we ought to dress for what we do.  It's a good point, as it gets rid of blaming a woman for a man's sexual sin, and it also points to the fact that we ought to dress for the relationships--employment and personal--that we desire.

It is much the same as when I tell my kids to put on a coat, hat, gloves, socks, and shoes before we go somewhere in winter.  Might as well be able to tolerate cold and snow for a few minutes if the car breaks down.  Now how does this relate to plunging necklines, extremely tight clothing, and the like?

Well, come to the office and see how many people you see wearing black stretch pants sans something to cover the derriere, or check out the pool--the 50 meter one for exercise--and see how many people you see wearing a bikini.   Reality is that achievement at work, or in athletics, does not correlate well with being a distraction, or tugging at your clothes all the time to make sure "everything important" is covered.  It correlates well with, well, being able to work.

In other words, certain attire--excessively tight, revealing, etc..--is the attire of leisure, the attire of....

....people who aren't going anywhere in their career or relationally, really, unless they make it in show business.  And for that matter, how likely is it for people in show business to have success in their personal lives?  Maybe there's a connection there.

I saw a young lady recently who demonstrated she understood half of this principle as she left the "medical careers vo-tech" school that uses the building where I work.  In the hallway, she took off her scrubs to expose her "high school fashion."   She understands that clinics expect her to dress for success.  Hopefully she learns in time that she needs to do so for her personal relationships, too.