Our camp ski instructor and charter member of the Lone Star Camp 3 musketeers, Jack Allen, decided one summer that he was going to learn to ski barefoot. This caused me to begin to doubt his sanity, although his previous history probably should have had me looking up therapists long before he decided to kick off the old water skis.
We were both married by then and I had a kid already. He asked me if I wanted to try barefoot skiing myself. He implied that my manhood was at stake somehow if I didn't take up the gauntlet he had thrown down. As I later discovered, my manhood was far more at risk than I suspected. Being a new father and already beginning to age rapidly from having to feed the baby two or three times a night, I think my mental faculties were beginning to fade. I said, "Yes!"
If you've never water skied before, you probably don't fully understand what all is involved in this so-called sport. In water skiing, you strap your feet into neoprene or plastic boots securing your foot firmly to these two bits of polished lumber. You start out with two of them which is dangerous enough. Eventually, your friends shame you into doing it "slalom" style - which means standing on only one board while in a controlled fall behind a motorboat with very sharp propellers and a not very sharp driver doing about 50 miles an hour through dark green water infested with snakes, floating debris and idiots in canoes and sailboats.
I had become pretty good at it - sadly, too good for my own good. I had water skied on pretty much anything that would float and some things that wouldn't. They'd dragged me up on canoe paddles, two by fours, oddly shaped hunks of plywood designed to decapitate you when fell off, tree limbs, inner tubes, your own unprotected belly and the sawed off tips of some old splintery skis left over from the days when French Canadian fur trappers used to pull their comrades behind 20 foot trading canoes through snake infested swamps (usually by the neck after they were caught stealing the liquor, but that's the less romantic part of the tale).
These mini-skis were called "shoe" skis, chiefly because they were about the size and length of my flip flops. Some humorist had even screwed a metal rudder underneath to add to their stability (and to their capacity for ripping off your foot at the ankle if you accidentally tripped on a wave while shoe skiing. Shoe skiing is lots of fun. You start out by sitting on a loose slalom ski and riding it out of the water like the Lone Ranger on Silver. Once you stand up from this undignified position, the slalom ski theoretically drops away and flips over and lies there invisible against the algae ridden East Texas lake water waiting for you to hang a shoe ski rudder on it during your next lap and become parted from one of your feet.
The thing they don't warn you about is that as you stand up, the slalom ski comes up with you and gives you a nice little parting shot between the thighs, producing what we in the water skiing profession call the "shoe ski squeal". The dismount from shoe skis was often rather spectacular as the boat had to be going around 60 miles an hour to support you on those tiny little things and when you dropped off, you dropped off rather abruptly. Having your kneecaps shoved up your nose was always good for opening up the old sinuses, but after those first two or three cartwheels, you needed them opened up a little anyway.
In the process of learning what my Mom meant when she told me not to make "poor choices", I had accidentally earned a "reputation" as a daring, brave and skillful skier.
"I'll watch you practice first." I told Jack.
Jack had decided after attempting to rip off his ankles a couple of times that he wouldn't use the shoe ski method he had recommended for me. Instead he chose the "step off from slalom ski" method. I watched him round the lake once and come out of the last turn for his first attempt. We'd read the books that described the technique and knew that you had to lean waaaaaay back to stay on your feet. During his first attempt he wore his regular bathing suit.
From shore we watched him through binoculars as he stepped off with one foot, steadied himself (so far so good) and then stepped off the ski with the other foot. A barefoot fall happens fast. If you blink you could miss the fun. You're doing 60 or 70 at the time. The water feels like iron when you step on it and fools you into believing this is going to be a cinch.
I watched Jack suddenly sit down hard, drag on his butt for about 20 feet and then begin flipping end over end like a stone skipping across the water. He made one last hop and plunk and sent up a gigantic plume of water. Once it cleared, we could see Jack floating out there, resting for a moment. I thought it odd that he was resting face down, but he seemed to be alright as the boat crew came round and dragged his limp body from the water. Oddly, though, he seemed to be wearing a bikini. Now, I was quite certain Jack had been wearing a baggy pair of surfer shorts when he set out to make the attempt.
As they brought him back to shore, I could see him standing in the back of the boat pulling at something behind him. Once he got closer we could see he was attempting to pull his surfer shorts out of a place where surfer shorts were not meant to be worn. When they hit shore, Jack jumped gingerly, but frantically out of the boat and stumbled awkwardly up the hill toward the camp kitchen holding his knees tightly together and making pathetic little hops like a wounded rabbit.
The barefoot fall soon became known amongst us Lone Star Camp water-skiing professionals as "the instant enema" in honor of Jack. We also called it the "high speed high calonic", the "great green goose" and some other epitaphs that were more colorful, if less repeatable. It hurts just to think about it now some 33 years later!
"That's okay," I smiled and waved off the boat driver. "I'll just take the old shoe skis for today. I want to work on, uh, my technique. Yeah, that's it. You can take someone else before me, okay?"
This went on for a couple more days. Jack was nothing if not determined. Every day after lunch, he would go out for a fresh attempt to barefoot. Every day he would fall a couple of times and then the boat crew would tow him to shore and he'd hop/skip up the hill to the kitchen. By the third day of this, the kitchen crew had officially banned him from using the kitchen restroom ever again, mainly because of the terrible sounds that came out of there. The girls said it sounded like a moose in mating season singing a duet with a bagpipe beside a waterfall - only worse!
The third day, Jack showed up with a wet-suit. "For protection," he explained in a voice that had gone from a nice baritone to a suspiciously high tenor in just the past few days. I think he hoped the sturdy wet suit would prevent the lake water high calonics. In this he was to be disappointed.
He did manage about three falls a day before having to dash up the hill. Unfortunately, with the kitchen off limits to him, he had to head for the men's bathhouse clear across the cabin area. He didn't make it. He got as far as the camp store and was forced to detour to the nearest place of refuge which happened to be our cabin. That summer my wife and I lived in a small air-conditioned room attached to the camp store which she managed. Sheila was inside putting the baby down for a nap, when she heard a panic stricken pounding on the door.
She opened it and Jack poured in, "I, uh, can," Jack stammered waving at the bathroom door. "Thanks, I, uh, aaaaaaaah...." he dived behind the curtains and Sheila suddenly heard the mournful sound of bagpipes tuning up.
"I think he had a moose in there with him," she told me later. The bathroom walls in our little one room cabin went only about 3/4 of the way up to the ceiling and only had a curtain for the door. So, there wasn't a lot of sound deadening. Jack didn't seem to mind.
"I was afraid he was going to wake up the baby," Sheila explained. Matt, however, proved to be a sound sleeper and after 3 days of repeat performances, Jacks frantic visits got to be a regular thing. He used to discuss philosophy and trade gossip over the wall with her, all the while blithely pretending there wasn't a dying bovine in there with him. Once done, he'd wash his hands, bid mother and child goodbye and head back down to ski class.
Every day he'd have to sew up the crotch of his wetsuit for the next day, but after about a week of practice he managed to learn to barefoot ski and had the cleanest colon in the state of Texas, except maybe for the little bits of algae and the odd minnow that was left behind.
After Jack had mastered skittering along on his bare feet and falling hard on his butt, he finally goaded me into attempting to barefoot. "We'll do a two man barefooting exhibition." he told me, his eyes glazing over.
Ever the ham, I fell for it. As I rounded the lake on my one ski (I'd seen what happened with the shoe skis), I looked down nervously at the water as it flashed beneath me at unholy speeds. Coming out of the last turn I felt the boat pour on the gas.
"Well, here I go," I took a deep breath and gingerly stepped off the ski with one foot and leaned waaay back to put some weight on it. I figure my face it the water at about 70 miles an hour. My feet were doing at least that when my heels struck me in the back of the head and I began rolling end over end, not rolled up in a proper ball like a normal person, but with my face and other parts on the outside of the human hula hoop I had become. I had hoped to keep most of those exposed parts until I was somewhat older and they began to drop off naturally. I found the missing ski we'd been using for shoe ski starts too.
I actually bruised my heels on the back of my head. The chiropracter says he'd never seen a spine quite that particular shape before.
I never learned to barefoot. I decided to leave that for guys with sturdier sphincters.
A young liberal named Travis on one of the Facebook discussion threads this morning, tried to make the case that Ronald Reagan was a great leader in the same way that Hitler was a great leader. He argued that skill at leadership does not make a leader good for the country and that Reagan did as much evil as Hitler.
Well, I think Travis probably has a somewhat different definition of “great leader” than I do.
To me there is a world of difference between a “great” leader and one who is merely skillful. Hitler was an evil genius and a skillful manipulator of the masses, but not at all what I would call a great leader. A great leader leads you where you want to go and helps you accomplish what you want him to help you accomplish. I don’t suppose the German people really wanted to be "led" to become a byword for mass murder and the perpetual villains in practically every war movie ever made for the last 50 years. Hitler was skilled at what he did, no doubt about it. He understood how to manipulate the fears of his people and how to convince them that the solution to their problems was to blame it on the rich Jews and bankers who were “controlling everything” and taking all the goodies and leaving the German people to starve in the streets. Hatred of those who were better off than most Germans was easy to generate during the Wiemar Republic, when the government was printing money so fast, that paper money soon became almost worthless. At one point, it took wheelbarrows full of the stuff to buy a loaf of bread.
Hatred toward the successful is not hard to breed and if you get the people busy fighting a war against people who look different, speak differently, worship differently, then it’s pretty easy to grab power during the confusion. Hitler’s Nazi socialists did just that. While Hitler was busy telling everyone that everything would be alright if they’d just swear allegiance to him, his party was busy putting together a fearsome secret police to enforce it's will. Cult leaders do the same thing. You wouldn’t call Jim Jones or David Koresh a “great” leader either, despite their ability to lead large groups of people to submit to mass suicide. Both men, by the way, were practicing socialists. Recognize the technique, though? It’s right there in the socialist handbook. Chairman Mao wrote about it. Lenin wrote about it. Marx and Hitler wrote about it. Alinsky wrote about it. They were all pretty open about how they planned to manipulate “the people”. Proud of it, in fact. It goes something like this.
Step 1: Create fear and panic in the populace
Step 2: Blame the people you need to get rid of or whose money you need to steal for whatever everyone is now afraid of.
Step 3: Bring forth a charismatic messiah figure to lead the people to the new socialist utopia!
Step 4: Destroy those who disagree
Step 5: Take control of everything in the confusion and hold tight to power.
In comparing Reagan to Hitler, I fail to see where you could make the case that he did any such thing. The Reagan phenomenon went like this.
Step 1: Recognize that the government is the problem and not the solution
Step 2: Find a good man, someone who at his core is decent, kind and brave - a leader who actually believes in liberty, life and the American Dream - and convince him to become our leader.
Step 3: Have him use the bully pulpit of the presidency to encourage the American people to do what they do best - create, innovate, work hard, reward achievement.
Step 4: Ignore your enemies and critics - they soon become irrelevant if you do that.
Step 5: End a brutal recession and double digit inflation. Create the longest sustained period of prosperity in the history of the United States. Bring down Communism and dismantle a huge and deadly nuclear arsenal that has been on hair trigger alert and pointed at us for more than 3 decades. Leave gracefully when your term of office is over.
Perhaps God will raise up another Reagan after the disastrous Obama administration as he did after the disastrous Carter administration.
Yesterday was a tough day. It marked the 3rd anniversary of my son Micah's death from a seizure in the middle of the night. We had 5 layers of safety procedures in place to help insure that he was safe and every single one of them failed that night.
God gave us a sign years earlier that we later recognized was God telling us we were going to lose him and assuring us that it would be alright - that God knew it was coming and that Micah's soul was safe in God's hands. I've written about it before in this blog at: http://twayneking.blogspot.com/2006/12/signs-from-god.html .
Three years and we're still trying to recover from the loss. Parents were not meant to survive their children. It's one of life's cruelties when you lose your babies - even the 6'4" ones. You have no defenses for that.
People have difficulty being around you when you're going through the trauma from it. Let's face it, if you're a parent, losing a child is the worse thing you can imagine and being near someone who has lost a child is a terrible reminder that it could happen to you.
Children don't understand that at all. The worst fight my daughter and wife ever got into was when Meg had been driving on a very dangerous highway (lots of drunks) late at night to visit her boyfriend. Her Mom ordered her not to do that because it was dangerous. She was terrified that Meg would be killed driving home some night. My daughter, as fiercely stubborn as her Mom, simply blew her off and basically said she would do whatever she wanted to. It got really ugly after that.
Meg will probably have hard feelings about that for years - until her own daughter (which she hasn't had yet) does something that risks her young life needlessly and freaks mama out!
God is merciful to all of us. He has given every parent alive a little glimpse of what it means to lose a child and an understanding of the risk He took in allowing his own son to give himself for us. At the same time He promised to be our children's teacher (Is. 54:13). It's just so hard to send them off to school.
It's even harder when your children graduate early like Micah did.
Hold them tight, Mom and Dad. Never let a day go by without letting them know in some way that they are precious to you and that you love them without condition.
A couple of friends sent me one of those e-mails that asks you to answer some questions about yourself entitled "25 Random Things About Yourself - Tag You're It!". Now even at age 54, I'm still enough of a kid to feel obligated to join in the game when somebody tags me "it". Here's the header on the e-mail:
Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.
(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)
OKAY, YOU GOT ME! I'LL DO IT BUT WITH THIS DISCLAIMER: I'm sending this because I got it from two people I'm very fond of and am flattered they considered me in their top 25. HOWEVER, in order to relieve anyone's sense of guilt over not forwarding this, let me say I will not have my feelings hurt if you don't send this back to me or send it on. I quit teaching in 1980 and except for my Primary Sabbath School class, I've tried to avoid assigning essays or any other type of homework ever since. That said, I'm going to do this and anyone who can bear to read it may do so. For those of you whose reaction was "Sweet Jumbo Dill Pickles, does this guy never get tired of talking about himself?", you have my permission to ignore this entirely. That said....
1. I am a trained Girl Scout, Pathfinder Master Guide and former Red Cross Canoeing, First Aid and Water Safety Instructor.
2. I was also a Water Safety Instructor Trainer and trained swimming instructors and life guards. My instructor, the famed East Texas Red Cross Aquatics Director Bud Bradley was trained by the legendary Commodore Wilbert E. Longfellow, the creator of the American Red Cross's Water Safety Program. I inherited one of Longfellow's original aluminum torpedo buoys - the less forgiving precursor to those red foam thingies that busty Baywatch lifeguards carry with them into the surf. I worked on staff at Lone Star camp 5 summers - two as waterfront director.
3. I own two complete telescopes and am building a six inch scope out of a length of sonotube and some plywood and stray pieces of telescope parts. I made 6 eyepieces out of an assortment of lenses, copper pipe, medication bottles and PVC pipe fittings
4. I have two canoes in my back yard, 14 life vests, two sailboards, 9 paddles and a home made canoe rack. In my driveway is a Hobie 16 catamaran badly in need of some paint.
5. I was the center bottom guy on a 5 and 6 man pyramid (that's me in the picture below bottom center man). I've attempted a jump start off a 10 foot tower, skied on canoe paddles, a 2x4, 6" long shoe skis and I once did a human torpedo routine which ended with my shorts dangling from one leg.
6. I co-hold the Lone Star Camp skinny canoeing record with my good buddy Mark Miller (4 laps, full moon - did not get caught). I can stealth paddle a canoe and have paddled a canoe with my feet (don't ask - I was young and foolish and the moon was full). I now have to paddle canoes and kayaks with XL weight capacities. I once sank a kayak I was testing simply by getting into it.
7. I play guitar, banjo, dulcimer, mandolin, recorder, bodhran, ukelele, harmonica and the bones - none well enough to "take it" when someone asks me to do a solo riff. I rebuilt a Goya classical guitar that I bought for $25 on eBay. I've got at least 3 guitars, two banjos, a dulcimer, mandolin, half dozen harmonicas, two recorders, a set of bones, a bodhran, electronic keyboard and a ukelele lying around the house.
8. I won two of these gold awards at the Worldfest Charleston and Worldfest Houston International film festivals in 1995.
9. I wrote and sold a book about charity golf tournaments. It came out last year.
10. I once shook hands with Dallas Cowboys Coach Tom Landry.
11. I once sat behind a podium where George Bush Sr. was speaking when he was Reagan's VP. I was across the street in a taxicab with a loaded pistol under the seat. I got out of the cab very quickly when I found out my friend had a gun under the seat.
12. I was saved from being run over by a motorboat by angelic intervention. No other way that boat missed us in a 20 foot canoe.
13. I don't have a favorite genre of music - my tastes run to the eclectic. Finding a broadcast radio station that plays music I like is nearly impossible.
14. My best friend and I used to run around East Texas to visit Adventist church services when they were having their regular potluck lunches. We often traveled up to a hundred miles one way in our sabbath clothes on his Harley Davidson 64 hardtail.
15. I'm a certified scuba diver. I once got an "oily" air supply at a tank rental place in the Bahamas and it made me sick. I threw up while 16' underwater, kept my head, cleared the regulator AND never had to surface, though I did have to move away from the reef because I attracted a giant school of small fishes.
16. I read a couple of books a week. I love sea stories like Horatio Hornblower, Captain Blood and Jack Aubrey, military history, action adventure stuff like Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series and hard sci-fi like Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov and Orson Scott Card's Ender series. I collect books I like and reread my library through every couple or three years. I read the Bible daily.
17. I like to bake bread in our bread machine.
18. I'm an amateur photographer, both digital and film. I've got two 35mm cameras, an old Pentax and a Canon AE-1 with long and short lenses and a digital. I work with Photoshop a lot.
19. I published some poetry in college and more than 20 feature stories and a regular column in local newspapers.
20. I collect toy soldiers.
21. I can say the Lord's prayer in perfect High German.
22. I've written a novel with my wife that we're shopping around to publishers.
23. I maintain 5 weblogs and a personal website and work full time as website director for Virtual-Village.org.
24. I'm a professional grant writer and nonprofit consultant. I've helped start 5 new nonprofit and educational organizations from the ground up.
25. I taught school for 5 years, was boy's dean at a boarding academy in Mississipi where I worked in a sawmill and milked cows, my wife and I owned and operated a day care center for 7 years and for the past 8 years I have taught Primary Sabbath School to 6-10 year-olds.
Barak Obama's order to close Gitmo makes one thing very clear. In Obama world, there is no war on terror. It's a police action!
Anyone captured on the battlefield fighting against American soldiers or conducting guerilla terror attacks against our country is to be arrested, charged and given due process as though he or she were an American citizen, conferring the rights of citizenship, if not the actual status of citizen upon those who would destroy us.
Obama argues that this is only right and just. By this reasoning, when we brought German or Japanese soldiers to U.S. soil as captives during WWII, should we have put them in county lockups or in state or federal prisons and conducted individual trials to determine their guilt or innocense.
If so, then, technically, if we could prove one of those soldiers actually killed an American soldier, we could have set 'em up with an appointment in Old Sparky. Given the mood in WWII, captive enemy soldiers in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, etc. would have kept Old Sparky humming night and day.
Is that where we really want to go? Is it really more fair to expose enemy combatants to the court system in our country where in some cases, they would face the death penalty. Remember a recent terrorist we tried here in America - Timothy McVeigh. We executed the boy!
Are we going to do that to all non-uniformed soldiers we encounter on the field of battle?
I want to repeat the logical outcome of all this. If we treat ALL Gitmo detainees as criminals, that means any of them who killed or injured American soldiers, civilians, etc. should be tried under the laws that govern this country or the country where the alleged "crime" took place.
This means that if peace is declared, these guys can't be released without being tried first for their crimes. THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, BY IT'S ACTIONS HAS DECLARED GITMO DETAINEES CRIMINALS AND NOT ENEMY COMBATANTS.
Now we have another problem. The American military is being, in essence, called upon to do police work. Does that mean we withdraw our regular troops and send NCIS over to arrest suicide bombers?
Oh, yeah, that'll work!
And if the Obama administration decides it's okay for the military to do police work, does that not violate a principle, long held by the U.S. government that the U.S. military is not a police force. Does that signal the real view of the American military by the new administration - that it is not essentially a war-fighting body, but is actually a policing force.
BHO did signal his intent to do just that during his campaign. In at least one speech he called for the deploying of a military "security force" within the border of the United States with all the equipment and firepower of the military. Well if he's going to do that, why not save a few bucks in these hard times and just deploy several battalions on standby within the states that could go anywhere, anytime to do a little heavily armed "police work".
As a matter of fact, that is precisely the plan that is already in the works right now.
My question then becomes, "WHO IS THE PRESIDENT INTENT ON POLICING?"
There are two possibilities, both disturbing.
1. A confused and panicked populace in the aftermath of a major attack on home soil or a disaster.
2. Troublesome elements of the American populace (can you say "Gestapo")
The U.S. military has no business doing policework other than the usual MP stuff, and especially it has no business policing on home soil. Either the Obama adminstration feels like it needs to have a powerful force at its disposal here at home to enforce its will OR they're pretty sure that when they pull the troops from the Middle East, the terrorists will be coming here in a big way!
Under George Bush, we have not had a single attack on home soil since 9/11. Something he has done has worked. This president seems intent on lowering our guard, withdrawing our military from contact with the enemy and turning the guns on our own people.
Ask the Israelis what happens during a cease fire or immediately after a peace treaty with these folks.
THEY REARM AND RELOAD! Then they come at you again.
If running the terrorists at GITMO through the courts in the US would get a bunch of executions and life sentences and get these people off the streets, then okay. My guess is it's going to make a bunch of lawyers wealthy and turn a bunch of "terrorists on probation" loose on American streets. I don't see Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan taking them back when we try to expell them and if it goes like it usually does, they'll be back again in a year blowing up embassies and US naval vessels.
One liberal caller to the Glenn Beck talk show yesterday objected to Gitmo because we "weren't charging them with anything". When asked what we should have done with them, he said that if they were our enemies, American soldiers should have killed them right there on the battlefield.
What a frightening peek into what these guys mean by "change". Perhaps we'll need more bulldozers in the Obama military so our soldiers can more efficiently rake the piles of bodies into the mass graves. One thing you can say for socialist governments. They certainly are efficient at thinning out the ranks of their enemies.
Last week, the Queen was touring a hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland. They took her to one floor and as she shook hands with one of the patients, he sat up in his bed and said, "O MY Luve’s like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June."
"That's nice," said Her Majesty a bit nonplussed and moved on to the next bed.
"FLOW gently, sweet Afton! among thy green braes," the dour old Scotsman said emotionally as the queen took his hand. "Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise; My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream, Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream."
The Queen smiled politely and nodded and moved quickly on.
At the third bed the man leaped to his feet atop the bed and began waving a bedpan dramatically over his head. "SCOTS, wha hae wi’ WALLACE bled, Scots, wham BRUCE has aften led," he shouted as orderlies dragged him down and began to tie him down with padded restraints. "Welcome to your gory bed, Or to Victorie!" he shouted after the retreating monarch.
"Is this the mental ward?" she asked the hospital administrator who was giving the tour.
Okay, guys, Al Gore has told us that global warming will destroy the planet. Pay no attention to the falling temperatures world wide. You see, the rising carbon levels have actually caused the falling temperatures which will cause the rising temperature levels which is why the polar ice caps will melt completely away even though they are at their largest expansion since 1979 which is, of course, because of global warming. Don't think about it too hard, it'll hurt your brain.
So, obviously, it's time for us to save the planet. But how, you ask?
Easy peasy according to the much respected Global Commons, Inc.. The Secret is contraction and convergence (C&C) GC's exciting proposal for saving the planet and (coincidently) turning the planet into a vast worker's paradise.
How does G&C work. Global Commons recognizes two principles for saving the planet:
1. That global emissions of carbon dioxide must be progressively reduced
Why? Because a bunch of UN scientists say so.
2. Reductions must be based on justice and fairness
Why? Have you people never read Karl Marx?
Global Commons says we need to answer just two questions in order to save the planet.
1. What is the maximum level of carbon dioxide that can be permitted in the atmosphere without serious climate destabilisation?
What Global Commons is suggesting is that we figure out how much carbon we ought to be allowed (gotta keep the fearless leaders' swimming pools heated after all - they work so hard for all of us). They propose coming up with this currently imaginary number and then assigning every person a carbon ration. These rations could be traded, bought and sold and generally used as chips in the great global game of wealth redistribution. One potential political problem with the whole carbon allowance scheme is this: Small, poor countries with big populations which have little industry, transportation and low energy useage would inevitably sell their large unused carbon allowance to wealthy nations, thereby transferring wealth to poor countries from rich ones without having to resort to war or extortion. The only problem with this idea is that in order to keep the carbon dollars flowing, how many benevolent despots in third world countries will want to risk passing those dollars along to their people who will (selfishly) want to spend it on goodies that increase the country's carbon footprint. There ought to be some nice presidential palaces built with all those carbon bucks and the military industrial complex ought to make a nice living building weapons for the presidentes, but then I'm sort of a pessimist about human nature in that way. Better yet, instead of extorting taxes from the peasants, the third world dictators would simply extort it from wealthy energy using western nations and ease up on the peasants a little so they will be less discontented with their poverty, the 3rd world regimes a little more stable (with all those new soldiers and tanks and stuff) and the wealthy nations a lot less economically healthy. Of course, when the western economies collapse and can't or won't pay the carbon offsets to the third world countries, there will be a lot of hungry little despots with big weapons running around looking for someone to shoot.
The second question the global warming enthusiasts say we should answer is this:
2. By what date should global per capita shares converge to the level that we're all equally poor/rich/using energy?
In other words when will everyone in the world be emitting carbon equally (except of course for the fearless leaders who must heat their jacuzzis after a hard day unselfishly running the lives of billions of human beings)?
Another problem: As we said above, the transfer of wealth in the form of purchased carbon credits from the rich nations to the poor cannot continue forever. Money spent on something which is of no intrinsic value is ultimately like blood being dripped out of an open vein. If you don't stop it, the person soons turns pale and drops over dead. Since rich nations are not in the habit of dropping over dead, it's unlikely that anyone is going to willingly volunteer to open up a vein (other than to donate the occasional pint of foreign aid). The plan depends on wealthy, comfortable nations being willing to become poorer and less comfortable to work.
Now there's only so much fear of the planet being destroyed we'll accept without evidence that it is, in fact, being destroyed. You need to do something about the National Geographic Channel and the Discover Channel and Animal Planet. The keep showing huge herds of wildebeests, flamingos and not yet dead migrating whales. Unless people see some flooded coastal cities or a couple thousand dead zebras pretty soon, they're not going to buy the whole global warming deal - especially if they are doing without food or their government starts telling them they can't have kids and stuff. That kind of thing is really gonna be unpopular in the western ghettos and slums where the number of kids you have determines how large your welfare check is going to be.
It's like my great aunt Agnes. The preacher one Sunday preached a sermon about sin.
"It is a sin," he said, "To drink alcohol in ANY form!"
"Amen," she sang out from her back pew.
"Oh, and brothers and sisters it is a powerful sin," he said, "To smoke those cigarettes and those nasty old ceegars!"
"Preach it, brother," Aunt Agnes shouted and stood up and held her hands in the air in praise!
"And it is also a sin, practiced in secret by some of our congregation," he warned, "To be dipping snuff and chewing tobacco!"
"Oh, damned," Agnes sat down shaking her head and frowning. "He done stopped preaching and done started meddling!"
Let me here make my own modest proposal for saving the planet: There are only two elements to the proposal (so that even Democrats can keep track).
1. Treat others the way you want to be treated. This means cleaning up your own mess whenever you make one. If you spill oil, you get to clean it up. If you're the CEO of the company and the company goes bankrupt and can't pay for it, some judge puts you and your entire adminstrative staff, the captain of the tanker and all your accountants out on the beach with soap and rags and shovels and bags, scooping up sludge and scrubbing down oily ducks and otters. If you stink up the air, you fix your pipes so you don't and plant some trees or something to help freshen up the atmosphere around your plant. If you dump your trash willy nilly into the sea or your sewerage in the river, we make you stop and pay for cleaning it up. In all cases, whoever made the decision to mess it up gets to put on hip boots and help with the cleanup. Pollution would be over pretty soon if that were the policy.
2. From today on, everyone's borders are the same. No one gets to take land from anyone else. No one gets to take over anyone else's country unless they want to become a state or something and we all vote to do that - I'm thinking Tawain would make a nice 51st state. They're loaded and I'd really like to hack off China.
If you don't like where you live, find someplace where they'll let you move to where they do things you like. If you like misery and oppression, good for you. If you don't, we'll help you start over. Instead of war, we could get Bekins to just move people. Or you can clean out your own government. The U.S. did it back in 1776. So can you - especially in those small countries. Those guys in charge aren't that tough - not when there are 3 million of you and just a handful of them. You just have to believe freedom is worth fighting for. I think this proposal would cause peace to break out inevitably.
John E. Pepper Jr. Chairman of the Board Walt Disney Company 3271 Sienna Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45251-1080
Dear Mr. Pepper:
My wife and I were disappointed today to discover that the Walt Disney Company had decided to cancel its support of the third installment in the Chronicles of Narnia Series. As a parent whose 28 year old daughter still collects good children's movies and is devoted to the Narnia series and as a grandparent who is preparing for more grandchildren, I want to express my profound disappointment in the Disney Company.
Just last night, my wife and I were talking about all the movies we saw in 2008 and there was only one we thoroughly enjoyed and that was Prince Caspian. Caspian is the darkest book in the series and Walden did such a good job with it that we were really looking forward to "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" which is arguably the best of the series after "Witch".
I have to wonder whether Disney Company is really trying to completely alienate its entire audience of Christians with its company decisions. I mean you're doing another sequel to "Witch Mountain" for crying out loud - possibly the lamest Disney live action films of all time. The Narnia series has far more potential, not only at the box office, but also with toys, games, clothing and such merchandising. The Narnia series are the most beloved children's books in Christendom.
I know the economy is in trouble, but what better time for Disney to produce something hopeful and uplifting than when everyone else in the movie industry seems hell-bent on dragging us all down into the dumps with them. The one movie I saw all year that really gave me hope was Caspian. Now, it looks as though Dawn Treader may not be done at all. Pretty soon the only thing left for kids out there will be clones of Harry Potter and tiresomely cute animated animals, dinosaurs and robots whining about global warming. In the Narnia series, children were not patted on the head and told they were perfect just the way they are. They are challenged to choose to do what is right. In the Narnia books they are taught there is a cause worth serving that is greater than themselves. Generations of children will watch the Narnia films, just as generations have read the Narnia books. If Disney can't make money with something with that kind of legs to it in their vaults, then Walt really did die too soon!
If Narnia is abandoned by Disney, I suspect a lot of folks like me will in turn, abandon Disney as a source of entertainment for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Uncle Walt always drove the bookkeepers mad with his insistence on quality, but he was right. Films that seemed to lose money the first time they appeared in theaters, Walt came back and sold them time and time again to the next generation of kids. You can loop the Narnia series for the next 100 years the same way, selling them again and again and again to each new generation - BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE THE WHOLE SERIES!!!! I hope there's someone left at Disney with Walt's kind of imagination. I hope you'll seriously reconsider this decision. If I were Walden, I'd buy the rights to the first two installments and make the rest of the films. A film company could make money for the next two centuries off the Narnia series if they have the entire series. Disney dropping out already screws up hope of being able to buy a boxed set of all the installments of the films.
I promise you, there will be a backlash because of this incredibly short-sighted decision. Frankly, the Christian community did not entirely trust Disney with the Narnia series in the first place. A lot of us felt more kindly toward Disney because Narnia was treated with such respect. You had restored a lot of our good will because of that respect. Please reconsider your decision.
Today Texas schools received a national rating of C+ which is better than the national average. Texas student achievement was considerably above the C+ average, but the state of Texas' score was lowered by the evaluating agency, not because the students failed to perform. It was lowered - wait for it...........
BECAUSE TEXAS DIDN'T SPEND AS MUCH MONEY PER STUDENT AS THE NATIONAL AVERAGE.
So let me get this straight.
We did a better job of training our kids, spent less money doing it and they counted off for it?
Texas got an "F" on spending even though on the stuff that we really should care about (like whether you can get a job with your education) we got grades like these:
1. Early Childhood education - A+
2. College readiness - B-
3. Economy and Workforce - B+
4. Standards, Assessment, and Accountability - B+
This is why statistics make me nuts!
It's like the history teacher that grades your essay, not on whether you understand the lessons of history and draw original conclusions, but instead obsesses over your punctuation and whether you quoted all the "right" historians. The report was written by people who survived as teachers in our educational system and lasted through the weeding out process where they break the spirit and will of anyone with a modicum of creativity. Then, as a reward for their compliance, they were finally promoted to their level of incompetence and then became arbiters of what everyone else should be.
The best teachers I ever knew were fired. My last year as a teacher, I had 14 kids in 7 grades on 7 reading levels who started the year with achievement scores that were 3 grades behind grade level on average. About half or better were diagnosable with ADHD. In that year, my room was a wreck, my classes unconventional and my kids were happy. At the end of the year, my kids tested at grade level - up an average of 3 grade levels. The parents were happy and holding prayer bands in their homes praying that I would stay. So, in it's infinite wisdom, the school's board asked me to leave and the chairman proceeded to destroy my reputation so I couldn't teach anywhere else in that school system. Why? Because I didn't teach the right way.
As one hoary old platitude goes, "It is insane to keep doing what you've always done and expect a different result."
That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoe-making and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse. -Mark Twain