Friday, November 20, 2009

Who is paying for this?

LOS ANGELES – California is investigating several companies suspected of bilking churches nationwide of hundreds of thousands of dollars through fraudulent computer leasing schemes, authorities said Friday.
State Attorney General Jerry Brown said as many as 30 Southern California churches may have been defrauded, with the same companies suspected of bilking other churches in as many as 10 other states. The companies offered churches free computer kiosks that could serve as electronic message boards and generate advertising revenue, Brown said.
"Instead, churches were left with leases as high as $45,000 per year for what amounted to little more than desktop computers and printers housed in podium-sized wooden boxes," the Attorney General's office said in a statement.
I'm fascinated by this story for a few reasons:
First, a criminal (or criminals) figured out how to defraud perhaps the most trusting group of people on the planet - religious folk. They see the good in everyone and forget that sometimes evil not only exists, but triumphs over good. Their naïvety works against them.
Secondly, that churches need advertising revenue, or advertising at all. That seems to be a wild idea, to say the least. I would think the product should sell itself.
But the most interesting part of the deal is that they ran to the state for protection. The state to which they pay no taxes on their property. The state to which they are supposed to be separate from - or at least that's what it says in our Constitution, unless I've read it wrong.
I think it's fascinating whenever church or religious organizations get involved in politics and elections, also. They profess to be able to tell us whom to vote for, yet accept none of the responsibility for helping us pay for the goods and services the government provides.
I say, let them fight their own battles. When they run to the state for help, the state should recite the doctrine set forth by the country that so willingly aids their existence.
Talk amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Noun, adjective or verb?

I'm confused over the title of Sarah Palin's new book, "Going Rogue." I don't know if she means rogue as a noun, adjective or verb. She's so mysterious!
rogue NOUN:
An unprincipled, deceitful, and unreliable person; a scoundrel or rascal.
One who is playfully mischievous; a scamp.
A wandering beggar; a vagrant.
A vicious and solitary animal, especially an elephant that has separated itself from its herd.
An organism, especially a plant, that shows an undesirable variation from a standard.

Vicious and solitary. Used of an animal, especially an elephant.
Large, destructive, and anomalous or unpredictable: a rogue wave; a rogue tornado.
Operating outside normal or desirable controls.
VERB: rogued , rogu·ing , rogues VERB: tr.
To defraud.
To remove (diseased or abnormal specimens) from a group of plants of the same variety.

VERB: intr.
To remove diseased or abnormal plants.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Keeping our eye on the ball.

WASHINGTON (AFP) News photos of President Barack Obama bowing to Japan's emperor have incensed critics here, who said the US leader should stand tall when representing America overseas.
Obama on Monday was in China, having wrapped up the Japan leg of his Asia trip two days earlier. But Washington's punditocracy was still weighing whether or not the US president had disgraced his country two days earlier by having taken a deep bow at the waist while meeting Japan's Emperor Akihito.
Of course, the political media is divided. Conservatives are saying that the bow is a sign of subservience, and that President Obama is showing weakness by bowing at the hand of another world leader.
That's precisely the type of jingoistic thinking that gets us into trouble around the world. Conservatives are looking for trouble and will scream at the first sign of something they don't understand. Technically:
Bows are the traditional greeting in East Asia, particularly in Korea and Japan. However, bowing is not reserved only for greetings. Bowing is a gesture of respect. Different bows are used for apologies and gratitude, to express different emotions, humility, sincerity, remorse or deference, and in various traditional arts and religious ceremonies.
There are a few words that some people aren't familiar with, so I'll repeat them: Respect, sincerity and gratitude. Look them up.
What's interesting is that the people who are screaming are known conservatives and the rest of us ... well, don't particularly care because it doesn't mean anything except "hello," because not everyone in the world shakes hands and says, "How are ya!"
"I don't know why President Obama thought that was appropriate. Maybe he thought it would play well in Japan. But it's not appropriate for an American president to bow to a foreign one," said conservative pundit William Kristol.
You're right Bill - you don't know. Gosh, maybe Obama thought it would play well in Japan because ... anyone? ... he was in ... anyone ... Japan!
Some conservative critics juxtaposed the image of Obama with one of former US vice president Dick Cheney, who greeted the emperor in 2007 with a firm handshake but no bow.
"I'll bet if you look at pictures of world leaders over 20 years meeting the emperor in Japan, they don't bow," Kristol said.
Well, that's because Dick Cheney is a jackass and probably didn't bow because he's too pompous and full of himself to be polite. After all, he's the guy who told Senator Patrick Leahy to "fuck himself," so what did they expect? Emperor Akihito is lucky that Cheney didn't shoot him in the face. And, maybe Mr. Kristol could provide some photographs, because I don't trust his opinion.
Can we, just for a few minutes, get over this partisan sniping that people like Fox News eat with a big spoon? It might make for great TV, but it's divisive; and we don't need more division. Conservative - Liberal -- how about American? Could that work for a little while? We're up to our asses in crap and you nitwits are arguing about a greeting in Japan. Seriously. I'm really tired of the fighting.
Besides, would you rather have a president who bows in respect or one who kisses Saudi princes? They're both greetings, after all, right? Here are a couple of photos for you, Mr. Kristol:
Another conservative voice, Bill Bennett, said on CNN's "State of the Union" program: "It's ugly. I don't want to see it. We don't defer to emperors. We don't defer to kings or emperors. The president of the United States - this coupled with so many apologies from the United States - is just another thing," said Bennett.
Hmm ... I guess deference is something we reserve for certain presidents and certain religious folk.
Ugly is as ugly does, Mr. President.