The Gross National Debt

Thursday, July 30, 2015

How u sez it speaks volumes about your societal status

Me bud Freeman posted this to my FB page:
While I agree that grammar matters, it only matters to your intended audience. If the person you are talking with or writing to understands, your grammar was perfect. English teachers may now go all head splodey as they wish.

But grammar and the use of it speaks volumes about the kind of person you are.

Google is probably the finest analytical tool ever created for mass anthropological studies of the "Naked Ape." Aggregate results only as this is also aggregate information. Getting to the individual level means examining that user's Google Search history.

Searches for information are done privately and without pretension. Searches reflect who that person really is. When taken en-masse, it shows a tremendous amount of information about large groups.

Google aggregates. When you begin typing in a search string, it will offer you the most common search results based on what you typed. Google also tries to generate relevant returns based on your particular search history (or the search history in that computer).

In the above example, the use of "u" in the place of "you" turns up a lot of results related to sexually transmitted disease.  Someone with a lot more education than me would say this is symptomatic of people who are on the low end of the socioeconomic scale.

Since I don't have a lot of education, I say people who run search strings "how do u" are probably verging on being stupid and possibly are stupid. To check the results, I ran the same search in my computer.

Very similar. But, the variable is the pronoun. So, I ran the same search with "you" instead.

Yet different! So, I ran the third search.

Whoa doggie! Part of this has to be the self-identifying pronoun of course. But when there is a difference in how that pronoun is spelled, Google still delivers a marked difference in the most searched terms. I also checked "you" v. "yuo" and it delivered identical results.

Far be it from me to be grammar nazi (OK, I lied, I am), but these Google searches certainly provide some interesting points for discussion.

Correct grammar, at least correct grammar according to the intelligentsia, pretty clearly reflects the overall standing of a group in society.

Google's searches and collated results are already being used for serious SCIENCE! I suspect this is only going to grow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Here kitty kitty kitty

The Internet has gone all splodey head over the killing of a "named" and collared male lion in Africa.

UPDATE: The Zimbabwe Government has charged two people who live there with illegally hunting the lion. This government. A government that ranks 156 of 175 nations in a corruption survey.

Here's some facts:

The hunt took place OUTSIDE a preserve in Africa. Baiting game in Zimbabwe is legal as is hunting at night.

Shooting a collared animal is legal. Here's two bullet points from the National Geographic Society article:

  • In fact there is no law prohibiting the shooting of collared animals, though no reputable PH would do so if he could see the collar. The problem comes when it is difficult to see any collar and this applies to lion as well, where the mane tends to grow over the collar. In fact a collared lion was shot near to Hwange very recently. (emphasis mine)
  • The problem is that it is not possible to see the collars clearly in the bush. Suggestions that the collars be made of bright colored materials or that the elephant’s ears are painted brightly, are rejected. This leaves the hunter in a quandary. He is left with little option but to assume that unless he has been advised of the likelihood of a collared animal in the vicinity, and unless he can detect the collar, then the animal in his concession may be legally killed. After all, that is what he bought the concession for. (ditto)
So we have a legal hunt, on land where said lion could be killed using a legal harvest method in the presence of a professional hunter (PH) which is required for most African hunts.

The animal was recovered in daylight the next day and the collar reported. The Telegraph story (linked above) contains this statement:

Animals cannot be killed within the confines of the park. The hunters then removed his collar – further contravening park rules.

Again, the lion was not killed in the park, but a mile and a half away by the story. The story does not say where the animal was found. I find it incongruous that the park's rules can be applied outside the boundary of the park. Being Africa, that may be the law, but the narrative of the story indicates otherwise.

As for the whole issue of hunting animals like lions, I tried to find a logical and rational discussion of this from either a non-hunting publication or source or from a group that objects to hunting but can at least examine facts. I found this. Here's a pullout quote:

There is much evidence to suggest that hunting is less destructive than other nonconsumptive forms of ecotourism, such as photographic tourism. Hunters have less impact on the environment than photographic tourists as they require fewer local amenities and infrastructure, therefore reducing habitat degradation. The income generated from the hunting industry far exceeds that generated from other forms of ecotourism and is derived from fewer tourists, reducing their ecological impact while providing increased revenue for conservation initiatives. In fenced reserves the controlled hunting of overpopulated herds is an important aspect of habitat management, as this keeps animal populations below carrying capacity, preventing ecological degradation.

I understand a lot of people have huge objections to these hunts. I ask: How much are you spending to promote conservation and ecology in Africa? What are you spending to support the autochthons who benefit from the meat supplied by hunters and benefit from the money hunters spend on licenses and tips?

For those who say just ban legal hunting, another pullout:

Hunting bans across Africa have been relatively ineffective in protecting wildlife, as they reduce the value of wild animals and therefore reduce local interest in protecting the animals. Since the establishment of the hunting ban in Kenya in 1977, the country has recorded a decline in number by 40 to 90 percent in most animal species. Alternatively, hunting tourism has been extremely successful as it attaches an economic value to the wildlife and therefore encourages the cooperation of local people in conservation efforts for economic gain.

So I ask again, if you object to the hunting and wish to ban it, how much money are you going to send to the Africans who get cash in their pockets (hunters tip heavily) and how much will you contribute to research? Some of the big game licenses are auctions with the money at auction going toward SCIENCE! and conservation. If you object to the hunts, attend the auction and buy the license. Then no animal is killed and the money stays.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I hear ya

What is more offensive? Seeing another human being die a violent death (you can watch actual videos of actual people dying actual deaths by actual violence on Youtube) or watching two people enjoy themselves?

Most folks will say this'n is a no brainer, if they don't bother to think about the question. Once people start thinking about it, ah yes. Dat debbil, he be in dem details.

So here's detail for you.

This offends a lot of people. To them it speaks of oppression, slavery and misanthropy.

Some other people say this was never the flag of the Confederacy, but merely a flag of one of the Confederate armies.

Here's some devil in the details for you.

I ain't you. You ain't me. You have your thoughts and opinions as I have mine. Neither is worth more than the other. Neither is worth less. They have completely equal value, at least until one of us starts to denigrate the other for those opinions and thoughts.

I ain't putting nobody down. I didn't fight in the War of Northern Aggression. I've never owned a slave (I do know some actual slave owners and I am not kidding). I've never tried to oppress anyone.

I don't care what you call the above icon. But I hear you.

Please note, my saying "I don't care, but I hear you" is not a put-down. It's a simple statement. I recognize that you have uncomfortable associations with that emblem. If the problems you have with it are because of something I did, then we need to talk. If your problems with it stem from other sources, then let's go talk to those sources.

But as for me, I recently received a revelation about this icon and what it actually means to me. Used to be, it meant Southern heritage, pride, attempts to reign in an overbearing federal government and so on. It still does. It is the Confederate Flag to me. Still is.

But it also means:

Growing up on a farm in South Georgia. Throwing watermelons in the summer standing next to people who knew me since I was born and kids I grew up with. It means standing more than ankle deep in actual ice water in a truck in November in 40-degree temperatures loading that truck with fresh greens bound for Atlanta, Augusta, Thomasville or Panama City. It means sitting on a pond bank catching bream as big as a hand. It means sitting in a deer stand. It means knowing what "The Bird Rack" somewhere out of the Econfina River is. It means remembering a wide receiver drop to his knees to catch an overlong pass at the far edge of the end zone. (His feet were in bounds, so the reception counted and it was a TD.) It means wishing I had Granny Nancy's mustard sauce recipe for baked raccoon.

It means sharing whatever we had with whomever actually needed it.

It means standing side by side with people, regardless of their ancestry, and getting the job done.

You say it means none of that. I hear you. But you don't speak for me and I don't speak for you.

Now hear me.

You can change this emblem. What was once just a flag of one defeated unit of a bigger defeated military force has come to represent an entire way of life. How did it get there? Because people chose to make that association. You can change it too.

How? Co-opt it.

"Why on earth would I want to co-opt something that represents hate?"

To take the power away from it. If that Confederate Flag is that evil, then destroy the evil. Overcome the pain. Turn on the light. Make that flag into a source of pride for yourself. When you strip away the power of intimidation you say is inherent in that flag, then you have no reason to fear it any more.

Other icons in the history of the world have been changed. The cross was a mark of shame and punishment in ancient Rome. Likely the ancient Jews looked at the crucifixion crosses the same way some people view the Confederate battle flag today.

Today, two simple pieces of wood are a reminder of agape on a scale we can't truly understand.

Hear me.

Hate and fear will only drag you down. As me bud Doc reminds the planet daily, love will lift you up. Make that flag a wingsuit and soar.

Hear me. You are stronger than hate. You are better that intimidation. You will covercome ... if you want to.

me hear you.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wait long enough...

MA posted this piece a while back. Something in it bothered me and I could not think what it was. No, not what you're thinking and yes what you are thinking.

Anyway, by the time my waterfowl decided to behave, I lost the link.

Now that it's back, I can 'splain. Lemme pull two quotes from the article:

"In fact, I’ll concede the point and for the rest of the article work on the assumption that a fetus is a human life."

"No other human being is obliged to give up an organ for me, even if it would save my life. Nor bone marrow, nor blood, nor skin."

Keep these two statements in mind. Everything below hangs off them. If you change these two statements, then the rest of this blog becomes irrelevant. offers this definition murder. Cornell Law University offers this definition. These being legal websites, their definitions are always going to be qualified with the word "legal" and "illegal" inserted somewhere.

In other words, it ain't murder if the death happens within the bounds of the law. That's a bit high and tight for me, but we'll run with it.

So, the fetus is a human - her word, granted.

She is not obligated to give up something to support another human, granted. This is inaction. Do nothing.

If the fetus is a human, no one can force her to save that life.

However, unless she gets a court order to end that human life, has she committed murder? Wellll, as one of the folks on MA's thread said, if two people are hanging from the ropes in a crevasse on a mountainside and they cannot be pulled up together, can the upper person cut the rope? That means the lower person has to die, but the upper person lives.

Yow. I can't make that call.

Certainly the person on the bottom end of the rope can cut it, sacrificing himself to save the other. 

What about someone drowning? If they try to take you down with 'em? Sure you are within your rights to clobber that person and save yourself. Could a third person clobber the drowning one to save you? 

Yow. Again.

The problem comes down to support. You are absolutely under no obligation to support anyone unless you want to.

Now, I come back to this blog after several more days of letting it gestate.

Here's the problem with the above matters:

A person is hired to perform an abortion. A person is brought in, sought out, found, paid. In the above cases, the matter is an emergency. The people in dire straits didn't have a few days, or weeks, to mull options, consider prices, look over complications and implications.

With abortion, the pregnant woman brings in a third party, a disinterested third party. Someone who has to be sought out. Someone who must be physically found and brought in for the specific and avowed purpose of ending a life. Someone who is hired to end this life. Call him a doctor just so we can keep things straight.

If the doc is not paid, he won't do it. Arrangements are made ahead of time for payment.

In the case of the emergencies above, there's no time for detailed negotiations, signatures on paper and money exchanging hands.

The doc comes in and kills a human being (the fetus) for no other reason than another human being (the mother) found supporting the fetus intolerable.

When a person is hired to kill someone, without a court order, how would you define that killing?

Simply killing someone because you don't like 'em is not legal (a situation MANY of us should be thankful for).

However, taking an action to end that life, unless there's a court order or it is for self-preservation, that is murder. Well, murder at least as I see it. YMMV.  Lemme reiterate, I'm running off assumptions and statements the author in the OP uses.

If that person in need of an organ transplant is on a life-supporting system and you disconnect it without that person's permission and the person dies, that's murder,

I realize the woman in the link at the top of this writing is in a position of involuntarily supporting another human life. However, to safely end the pregnancy, she must involve at least one more person, possibly more. These people are also paid. If you run the extensions on this reasoning, they go for miles. I could walk that road the end, but I shan't.

There's probably something I'm missing in here. Let me know what and I'll revise and give you credit.


TC offers this: All that given, how can the en utero person consent to its own destruction? 


TC comes back: 
It occurs to me that once the personhood of the fetus is accepted, it's rights take precedence over all other considerations. Abortion no longer becomes a question of women's rights, but rather parental responsibility. The mantra of 'protecting the children' cannot simply be abandoned to the scythe because we don't like where the child is or how it got there. That argument wouldn't wash in any family court if the child was a few days or hours out of the chute. It shouldn't matter if the locale happened to be a womb either.

Other comments have been posted to the FB thread on this, but they change the subject or deviate from the two statements offered by the author in the OP. (Hijacked threads do not bother me at all.) Briefly, abortion-related comments are:

• Post-abortion feelings

• Abortion as a profit-generating business

Thursday, July 9, 2015

HUZZAH! Found it!

It existed, knew that, but finding it. Aye! There's the rub.

Found it.

The Lemon Test

This is a US Supreme Court decision that's remarkably direct in its ruling. It specifically sets down how far religion and government can mix. In the 8-0 decision, the High Court says the two MAY come together, but that relationship has to pass The Lemon Test. Lemon v. Kurtzman403 U.S. 602 (1971)

  1. The statute must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religious affairs(also known as the Entanglement Prong)
    1. Factors.
      1. Character and purpose of institution benefited.
      2. Nature of aid the state provides.
      3. Resulting relationship between government and religious authority.
  2. The statute must not advance nor inhibit religious practice (also known as the Effect Prong)
  3. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose(also known as the Purpose Prong)

In short, government and churches can come together to do things. An absolute separation, as many imply is found in the Constitution, doesn't exist. This kind of cooperation happens in my community. Churches here send people to help with Backpack Buddies. Churches provide money to buy the food. Government, in this case the school system houses the food and backpacks and makes sure the kids who need the food get it.

This mixing even goes a step further. The State of Georgia provides me with official documentation, does background checks on me and allows me access to state facilities to preach and share the Word. The state pays the power bills, provides a building, chairs, tables and etc for these religious meetings.

Inmates attend on a voluntary basis. I do not get paid for this work. However, it is a clear mixing of religion because the state enables me to do this.

In the meantime, I am amused.

Hitting a new high, or low, in cynicism

Next week, my community and several neighboring communities will have a very good idea who our next state house representative will be.

We won't know who will head to Atlanta in January just yet. A runoff is the most likely result of Tuesday's elections.

Four people are running. I know three of them. Until the election, I'd never heard of the 4th person.

I had opinions about the three I knew prior to the campaign. Not sharing those, except to say it was positive opinions.

Then, they qualified for the election.

My opinion of the three tanked. Hit the bottom and continued accelerating. The fourth person also took an immediate reputation hit.

At the same time, I continue to have the same opinion of the three I do know. A positive opinion of them.

Yet the very act of them saying "I want to hold an elected position in the Georgia General Assembly" was enough for me to believe they are fools, idiots, morons, etc. Pick your negative adjective. Their decision to run for office was enough for me to start looking at them askance. It was enough for me to believe they really can't be trusted.

Amazing. Here I am casting aspersions on someone simply because they want to hold state office.

Not amazing. I lean on history and the experience I have with politicians. These tell me that anyone who gets into office is going to start compromising, caving in, making poor decisions and in general falling victim to the maxim "Power corrupts."

As the first campaign draws to a close and we look for the runoff, I find myself desperately wishing for another candidate. But whom? No one. It doesn't matter who qualified for the election. I'd have the same opinion.

Cynical. Jaded. Burned. Yeah, that's me. But I go back to another maxim, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Friday, July 3, 2015

This above all

... to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

VF bought a copy of the book not a fan. by Kyle Idleman and had it sent to me.

Read part of it last night.

After reading and laying in bed thinking, I came to a realization, thanks to Mr. Idleman's words and a conversation I had earlier that day with She Whose Name Must Not Be Mentioned (some of you will get that. If you don't, I shan't explain.)

Her comment "Render under to Ceasar that which is Ceasar's" struck me pretty hard. With Mr. Idleman's backup,  I found myself remembering an opinion I have held for more than 30 years.


The very few folks who have a promise from me to do their weddings and sign their license, no worries. Maggie & Will, yer still good. I'll be there. I want to be there. It's important to me. So, as I am trying - and too often failing - to be a man of my word, I'm gonna sign those for to whom I have made this promise. Those who have this promise from me, you are important to me and my doing what you've asked is also important. We'll make it happen. No, you can't back out. :D

"Do what you say and say what you do."

Otherwise, effective immediately, I am not longer signing marriage licenses.

Years ago when I received my first ordination, I was so excited that I actively looked for someone to marry. Found some. Over the years, and a second ordination later from a different church, more people came and asked me to sign their papers. I have a third ordination pending, in case you don't wonder.

At the same time, I still held to the belief that government has no business in marriage. Government turns marriage into a must-ask-permission economic contract. Marriage, to me, is not economics. Certainly economics is involved. But government's permission is decidedly not needed. Other contracts between individuals don't need government permission. Why marriage?

Taxes are still paid. Bills are still incurred. Disagreements still happen. Separations still occur.

I understand that a marriage license brings with it certain government protections. I object to this as well. A family does not need a piece of paper from the government to guarantee government action or inaction. What is available to one, should be available to all. Requiring a "license" is a government attempt to control the private lives of people.

Someone is going to say "but the children need protections." Absolutley agreed. But if you think a signed piece of paper guarantees that, you have not parsed this situation, nor paid attention to what government does to and for children whose parents are not married.

As far as I know, no official religious text in the world requires government permission for adults to marry. May be one which does. If so, please let me know in the comments below.

Adults do not need government's permission to live together, to love, to share resources, to raise children, grow old and, well, be married. The only permission they need is from each other. Some religions may require a blessing by a member of the clergy. Certainly some people WANT a blessing by clergy. That is still different than government permission... unless government is your religion.