Friday Thoughts

My daughter, A-, not H-, is about 16 months old and as I tried to help the wife by finishing up the infant’s laundry, I saw once again that there were entirely too many articles of clothing in her dresser. By the time I got done sorting out everything that was too small for storage, and re-folding everything that is her size, I had the thought, “I have, on this day, touched every piece of my daughter’s clothing.”

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My step-son, just now, reheated his chocolate mousse pie slice in the microwave. Just imagine it. Last night he saw the lady pull two chocolate mousse pies, a lemon meringue pie, and a pumpkin pie from the fridge, not to mention we were given the option of taking home an apple pie, a blueberry pie or another pumpkin pie that were over on the counter (room temperature). Yet, today when it came time to finish the second abnormally large, special-for-the-day piece of leftover pie—still topped with whip cream and all—he turned into a mindless robot and acted out, “Food from fridge must be reheated.”

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Do any other husbands and fathers ever find that they ask a question of their family members and in return receive an answer—a clearly-worded answer—which is ultimately the exact opposite of the answer the son/wife/daughter states that they had in mind after further clarification? “Is the dishwasher clean?” “Yes.” Door opens. “Looks pretty dirty.” “Oh, I meant ‘no’.”

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My other daughter, H-, was not feeling good enough to FaceTime last night. But she was able to send her Christmas list.

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And, finally, politics. I finished the guided reading portion of Kant in my Great Books of the Western World set this morning. Next up is John Stuart Mill. John Stuart Mill is the one who advocated for universal (unqualified) suffrage—the first one. 1861. Let’s us 2021 Americans recall that people—essentially all people ever prior to 1861, and this means many people still alive today who are not us—did not want everyone to vote. In short, for most of human history it’s safe to say that all people feared mob rule. Put another way, let’s recall that the idea that “mob rule is to be feared” is a problem that has not been abated by universal suffrage.

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Movie news: If you need another nod to get you to sit through 2019’s subtitled, “Parasite,” here it is.

On Ethiopian Civil War

If I was you, faithful reader, I’d probably be thinking, “Pete, why don’t you stop pontificating as a pretend-amateur-auteur-political-motivational philosophy professor guru and instead give us some insight into something you truly do have unique access to, as surely your wife knows something about what is happening in her home country and you could translate for us?”

Okay. Will do.

Here’s my best translation.

For a typical citizen of Ethiopia, everyone you don’t know (and many people you do know) are spies for the enemy. Cab drivers, people at the bus stop. The person next to you at the market. If you hear people in the the apartment above and below, or any adjoining wall, assume they too are spies.

Add to this that, instead of, or in addition to markets, there are food banks.

How does an approaching army pass through a town? It doesn’t take much to imagine that only a few deaths (+ these spies) would powerfully dissuade other resistance efforts.

How does the army feed itself? They send some men with guns to the food-bank and load up—maybe killing a few non-combatants in the process, which again acts as a tremendously powerful deterrent.

There is also the typical scene from Hollywood, where the “bad guys” steal the “foreign aid” and then “give it” to those in need to show their generosity and confuse the matter of who is good and who is bad.

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Back to pontificator role: the lying/deception involved in the “spying” is the only area available for change. Until some large group of individuals experiences an event which leads them to fear Jesus’ eternal judgment more than their this-worldly death, the situation will never meaningfully change.

On The Exalted Teaching of Native American Buffalo Carcass Use and Anthropocene Anxieties

In the realm of par exemplar scenes of heavenly and harmonious human life on Earth, hardly any surpass the Native American’s total use of the American Buffalo carcass. Seriously. From grade school through college, no teacher of mine could avoid using this example to illuminate my classmate’s and I’s young, dim minds while lifting up the poor Native Americans as the truly perfect earth-inhabitants, despite simultaneously being the unfortunately (and remarkably) trusting foes of the white man and his futuristic ideas of prosperity.

I mean, the fat from the buffalo was even used exhaustively. And all the bones! Even the organs were put to good use!

(I say the following soberly for affect.) Their total use of the buffalo carcass was amazing, simply amazing.

Here’s my question: Why isn’t the West’s growing and seeming total use of the Earth viewed as just as noteworthy? Isn’t the use of coal and other fossil fuels (and now wind and solar and more) a perfectly matching analogy, down to the quark? If not, then what’s your problem with the analogy? That your own mind lacks the ability to process the scale of “time”?

Maybe you would call my attention to landfills? So we have landfills today. Didn’t the Native American have to set aside some part of the buffalo before attending to it? One thing at a time, like?

Or maybe it’s deeper. For instance, do you, when you imagine these conquered gods besides their bloody victims, picture that they developed this lofty and perfect total use of the buffalo carcass in one post-hunt pow-wow? Or do you give it some time to develop into the behavior that teachers exalt today?

My intention here is to use this comparison to reveal that your problem with life is that you’re afraid that we’re inventing problems too difficult for us to solve, in our quest for prosperity, while acknowledging that on a small scale we perfectly solved our problems.

Put shorter: You believe we can’t solve problems.

In a word, you’re depressed.

It’s not that I’m not wrong for using everything I can get my hands on to gain whatever perceived advantage there is in this life. It’s that you’re simply depressed and hopeless.

Look around you. Focus. Life goes on. You can’t stop it. Neither can I. So chin up. Put your oar in the water. And cut the Henny-Penny crap.

Herd Immunity Defined

In the podcast episode linked here: Uncommon Knowledge, you’ll hear an excellent episode about the pandemic.

Two key points: Herd Immunity is defined as when you spread the virus to one person or less—not some miraculous moment when a community is completely free of the disease.

Secondly, the interviewee preaches harder than any actual sermon I’ve heard in years and years and years—and he doesn’t even raise his voice (nor is he a preacher). He says that all the folks claiming to want to protect the poor, the elderly, and the children in pre-pandemic times had their chance to shine during the pandemic—and blew it. Those groups have all suffered the most because of the lockdowns. (If you’re not seeing the connection, try, the people who were going to stay employed during lockdown were all in favor of it, no matter who said what about how negatively it would effect the poor, the elderly, and the children of the world. Way to go, hypocrites!)

Okay. I feel like this second point may turn-off some possible listeners, so I want to be clear. The doctor guy didn’t rub it in anyone’s faces or anything. He’s compelling throughout. I rub it in their faces because I am under the stress that we all are this week as we see what happens to our co-workers come Nov. 1.

Midwestern, Educated, Guilty Perspective About The Pandemic

I transported a COVID patient last night. Besides the clinicians wearing a bit extra PPE, and a few extra considerations on the transport being in play, the event is now routine. But since my last post describing how the disease couldn’t even have existed, much less been considered as a pandemic, until the tools and understanding to identify—for starters—the element “oxygen” were developed, I had some extra time to consider what I was, in fact, implying. Since taking this time, I want to share my conclusion.

My guilty conclusion is: I don’t want the pandemic to end.

Hear me: as a future Gospel preacher, I want the pandemic to end. I want to go back to elementary language and thought. I want everything to be salt and light, not “sodium chloride” and “electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is perceived by the human eye”. As a future Gospel preacher, this return to simplicity would make preaching the Gospel simple. Folks would intuitively know that they knew nothing. And with that fact in agreement, we’d be on our way to life-everlasting.

But as a modern man, a man having never come close to “going without”, I have to confess that I don’t want the pandemic to end. Put another way, the pandemic, lethal as it is to some, is only here because of our collective knowledge—just like McDonald’s and Little Caesar’s. Or maybe, powered, heavier than air flight, is a better example of our prowess.

I’m not talking about some “for every good there is a bad” yin-yang nonsense. I’m just stating that anytime “pre-oxygen” would surely be more difficult living than today. We know categorically that anywhere on the globe today that is “pre-oxygen” (there are many, many cultures alive today that have no idea what oxygen is—I’m feeling pretty ignorant myself these days on the subject) is likewise living in conditions that precipitate things like raffles to come to America.

Analogy: Since really beginning to read, I have read some super depressing literature. But I wouldn’t trade literacy for illiteracy.

Keep in mind, no one should have to wear a mask to live, neither should they have to get vaccinated to work. These are crimes against humanity and those in charge will answer for them someday.

But if part of watching Captain Kirk travel the distance from “my mind” to “space” is 728,000 American deaths, then I say so be it. There are worse things than death. And there are better ways of life.

How Would The Bible’s Authors Describe COVID Deaths?

I am so tired of Christians talking about the vaccine and politics and the so-called biblical response to the pandemic and its lunacy. One specific thing that wears me out is the use of the acronym “COVID”.

Did you know the writings that comprise the Bible contain precisely zero acronyms? In meteorological lingo, this mean acronyms are a zero-chance event in the Bible, much like rain on a cloudless afternoon.

Now, the men who preach the Bible today, should, on some level, believe they are called by the LORD to speak his words. On some level, they believe they are speaking divine utterances—not to be added to recorded scripture—but holy/separate speech nonetheless. And so one clear way I use to discern whether the preacher is actually called, or more to the point, whether his sermons contain divine truth, is his use of acronyms.

With this discernment tool, I have found myself stressing to friends and family (in my efforts to test-the-waters of preaching and see how it might look in my future), “People don’t die of COVID. They die because they can’t breathe. We all need to just tell the truth. Do you see how this actually makes you feel different?” I then really rev my engines and continue, “If you say ‘people are dying because they cannot breathe’ then the response at once changes from, ‘we’re in a pandemic,’ or, ‘well, were they vaccinated?’ to, ‘That sounds horrible. Were they in pain?’ And the like. Do you see? There’s an instant humanity-element added. It’s like hopping in a car and heading directly to the room of the diseased person’s grieving family members if we simply lose the acronym. ‘Died of COVID’. Puuh. They died because they couldn’t breathe anymore.”

Okay. So I wanted to likewise sound off this kind of thinking on this blog, but I knew that I was partially talking outta my arse. And so I then took to Chrome with a search of, “how do people die from COVID?” in order to be sure I wasn’t too far off the beaten path.

You should try to find the answer yourself. That’s my first recommendation. It’s actually a tricky “search” to process. Most results are about “how many people die of COVID?” and not our question pertaining to particulars. In any case, see for yourself. Learning facts is important. We’re all altering our entire life over an acronym and we should at least know what the trouble actually is.

Truth be told, before I searched for this question, I searched for “how do people die of AIDS?” The savvy reader may see what my mind was doing. I was taking one acronym and clarifying how “it” (AIDS) was used in our vocabulary and killing people, and then seeing if the answer would help me here.

Short answer: AIDS kills indirectly. Just as we all always have known. You don’t run out of breath from AIDS, you run out of breath from some other disease that was able to take such drastic effect in your defenseless body because AIDS had removed your body’s defenses. And of course with AIDS we’re not just talking breathing problems.

Is COVID the same? In short: no. COVID kills someone by an oxygen problem. Given the many ways the body/blood interact with oxygen and need oxygen, the death may be any number of things. Maybe you can’t breathe, maybe your heart stops, or many any number of other organ failures occur. (This is a very general, but accurate, summary.) So let’s go back to Bible times.

Any available pool of men from which to choose to write the books that became the Bible didn’t know—couldn’t possibly have known—how air is something that can be further subdivided. There was air, there was no air, and then there was probably “bad air”.

(Stick with me. I’m driving it home soon.)

So the authors of our text could not have said, “It’s a lack of oxygen” that killed him. It’s not that the Hebrew/Greek didn’t have a word for oxygen, it’s that that level of knowledge of life on earth and the physical atmosphere was years off from being discovered. Nobody, not in any language, had a word for the particular element we mean by the word oxygen.

I imagine if they were around death a lot, they could tell the difference between what we may call “couldn’t breathe” and “heart attack”, because the obvious symptoms are considerably different. But they certainly couldn’t see (certainly couldn’t communicate) that a “heart attack” driven by lack of “oxygen” was different from a “heart attack” driven by a blockage that a two-thousand year later “cath lab” could’ve cleared right up.

Reader, pay attention here. My post’s question has altered at this point. It’s not, “How would the Bible’s authors describe COVID deaths?” (Answer: they couldn’t do it), it’s now, “Would the Bible’s authors have thought we were in the midst of a pandemic (plague-type situation)?”

And this question need not be answered by me here. My belief is that it need be answered by you, faithful breather.

What to do?

Take away the acronym. It’s certainly uninspired, and it definitely contributes to inhumane living conditions. It may even be obscuring the truth. But that’s for you to decide; that’s for us to decide as oxygen needing people. (Or do we just need air?)

(Let us pray.)

Chappelle Is Toast

I’ve had a change of heart.

I still agree with my last post’s (complicated) assessment, being: the fact that the following sentence will never be uttered reveals why Mr. Chappelle is helping the trans community: “Mr. Chappelle—while thoroughly picking on the trans community—could not but help them—because he is black.” I believe this sentence will never be uttered by anyone of significance, as stated, because I believe the real conflict in our nation (and the world) is between “tranquility” and “morality”. So Mr. Chappelle, in not addressing the immorality of the trans community, is clearly on the “tranquility” side of the conflict—by default.

All that said, where I differ from my opining of a few days ago is that I implied that Mr. Chappelle’s status as a black comedian (which cannot be discussed) will protect him. I have changed my mind. Mr. Chappelle is toast.

So why the change of heart? New facts, or at least a forgotten perspective, have since been revealed to me by my recent reading.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’m still working through the Great Books of the Western World, via the Great Ideas Program guided reading set. I’m in Montesquieu at the moment, still. (It’s a longer than normal selection.) And I came across this in last nights reading (The Spirit of Laws Book XII, Chap. 5 Of Certain Accusations that require particular Moderation and Prudence):

“The Emperor Theodorus Lascaris attributed his illness to witchcraft. Those who were accused of this crime had no other resource left but to handle a red-hot iron without being hurt. Thus among the Greeks, a person ought to have been a sorcerer to be able to clear himself of the imputation of witchcraft. Such was the excess of their stupidity that to the most dubious crime in the world they joined the most dubious proofs of innocence.”

Don’t mishear me. I’m not saying Mr. Chappelle is being accused of witchcraft. This is clearly no witch hunt. I would even hesitate to say it’s like a witch hunt. But maybe I could be pressed to admit similarities do exist. Instead, the point is that the trans community is out to get Mr. Chappelle and Netflix. It is also clear that the trans community is never going to be satisfied. Moreover, history is full of examples of humans never achieving satiation, no matter how many times they claim they could be. Taking this fact into account, the inevitable consequence is that the accusation will rue the day. Mr. Chappelle is toast. Fini. Finished. Dunsky. Netflix is likewise on the hurt train.

Netflix will likely recover after firing the boss, but we’re operating—not under a time of witch hunts, no—we’re operating within a time of the category that includes witch hunts and “cancel culture”, which Montesquieu rightly and timelessly labels “stupidity.”

To be clear, Mr. Chappelle was stupid, or put more nicely “unwise”, for electing to take on “tranquility” without arming himself with a shield of “morality”. You’ll see soon how his joke only helped the trans community.

All the while, “morality” and “tranquility” battle on. Whose side are you on? In either case, choose your weapons carefully.

Reaction to One Political Conservative’s Reaction to Dave Chappelle’s Latest Joke

As most of you know, I spent my twenties in the Air Force as a pilot. This means that all the things that folks generally do in their twenties, I did while a pilot in the Air Force. Before this, I was a very active little Bible thumper at church, and always working towards being an Eagle Scout at Boy Scouts. Then came college at a small private college, in a super small town whose only bar I never frequented. The picture I’m trying to paint is that I lived a life full of full disclosure. I could, did, and was encouraged to talk about life within all these groups. Real life, you know? Personal things didn’t stay personal. We all just lived together, good, bad, and ugly.

Due to the limited size of groups I was in within the elite pilot training program that is the Air Force’s SUPT, I never really gave much thought to the very different nature of social environment that I had then found myself in as a 23 year old. Put plainly, I hadn’t had my trust broken in life yet, and given the similarly small group size, I just assumed the Air Force would be no different.

Suffice it to say, I was wrong. And I got burned big time.

Time go’d on. Time go’d on.

I became known as a guy who wasn’t “one of the guys”. The fellas liked me and all, but they knew that I wouldn’t put up with much teasing (said I had “thin skin”) and they knew that I wouldn’t dish it out much either.

One day, a mentor figure saw my consternation (and I saw he saw) and so I finally asked him for help. He sat me down and answered my confusion by saying, “Pete. It just makes people more comfortable when they know that they can pick on you and that you’re willing to pick on them. Nobody means anything by it. But when you don’t join in, it feels off, and makes us nervous. You know we all really like you, right? We’re just picking on you a bit extra because we like your reaction so much. So if you want, feel free to give it back and then we’ll eventually get to a happy medium and all will be well.”

I was pretty sure then, and am more sure now, that this type of moment is rare. And so I considered it and then happily consented. And all was well.

The point of this trip down memory lane is to demonstrate that I know the concept that being picked on (a seemingly negative event) can actually be proof of a positive and healthy relationship. So, when Andrew Sullivan’s piece on Chappelle’s controversial joke landed, “Dave Chappelle Is Right, Isn’t He?”, I was intrigued and gave it a read.

In short, Mr. Sullivan claims that, much like my mentor, Mr. Chappelle, in making his joke, is doing the trans community a solid by picking on them. Mr. Sullivan argues that it’s good for the trans folk to be picked on, argues that it proves they’re approved.

Like my personal situation, I have to agree that Mr. Sullivan is right that Mr. Chappelle is doing the trans community a favor by directly, and with surgical precision, picking on them. (Make no mistake, Chappelle picks on the trans community.)

But I cannot agree that anything meaningful is taking place. The most compelling social/political problem in America and the West today (and given the hegemonic value of America—in the world today) is people valuing “social justice” and “equity” and “diversity” and “equality” and “inclusivity” above morality. It’s this replacement of core values that’s the problem, not one particular social group’s standing in society. Here’s how I know.

There is one little sentence that can be uttered which brings the whole house down, one little claim that shakes the foundation to the core. One minor comment that brings to the surface the true nature of the social/political problems our nation faces.

It’s arguable that Dave Chappelle is the greatest living comedian. It’s definitely true that he is on the leading edge—a bonafide influencer of the highest order—of Western Culture. But these two facts, powerful as they sound, don’t negate the claim I’m still preambling and which will not disappoint.

Ready? (I’m excited for you.)

“Dave Chappelle’s joke ultimately is not like my mentor’s advice, nor like Mr. Sullivan’s assessment, because Dave Chappelle is black.

Of course he can safely say the joke. To pick on Mr. Chappelle will only earn you the label “racist”.

If you think Mr. Chappelle’s joke could do anything but help the trans community, that’s your mistake. A joke which hurts the trans community is like Muslim Imams performing wedding ceremonies for gays. It just ain’t happening. The only thing that Mr. Chappelle’s joke has influenced is the amount of confusion.

It’s not confusion we’re after, it’s alignment. It’s integrity.

My mentor helped me because he had spent years developing himself into someone all considered worthy from whom to seek social advice. So when I was stuck, I sought help, sought wisdom from him, regarding how to navigate a confusing social environment.

On the other hand, the trans community is not interested in social advice. They feign to seek social approval—and from a culture which has so far shown nothing short of total willingness to re-center the culture on “social/political tranquility” instead of “moral excellence”.

Does Mr. Sullivan have pithy distillation power on Mr. Chappelle’s inverse goal? Sure. Does Mr. Sullivan (and other erudite pop culture commenters) make the clever, pragmatic observation that he supposes he does? Nope.

Mr. Chappelle doesn’t get cancelled because he’s black.

Final proof: Anyone see Jerry Seinfeld addressing the trans community like Mr. Chappelle does? Anyone see Brad Pitt jumping on the Chappelle Show? Anyone see Leonardo Dicaprio or Christian Bale or George Clooney or Steven Spielberg or Craig, Daniel Craig signing a petition with Mr. Chappelle? No. No, we don’t. We do not see these demi-gods doing these things. And we won’t either. Why not? Because the real fight between social/political tranquility and moral excellence is ongoing and they’re hedging their bets.

If you think Mr. Chappelle’s joke is helping the trans community, you’re right.

Conversely, if you think the trans individuals need help, you’re right.

God Did Not Write the Bible

This post is driven by that same Wednesday night church experience last week behind that other post about choosing a home church. As a refresher, the Baptists had a new children’s winter Bible Study and through it, on day one, lesson one were teaching the kids that, “God wrote the Bible.” In fairness, the pastor quickly clarified or tempered this claim with something like, “…using men…” But my point remains. God did not write the Bible. Moreover and more to the point, no Baptist, alive, dead, or yet-to-be even believes that God wrote the Bible. So why teach a child that?

I’m actually a little at a loss on the topic overall, these days. Why even say, “The Bible is inspired by God?” Or, “The Bible is God-breathed?” I’m totally fine with quoting scripture as in, “In Peter’s second letter he (Peter) says the writings we consider as the Bible are…” But, if we’re talking amongst ourselves (Christians to Christians), the thing being communicated is known and part of the “Christian-ness”. It’s like two basketball players describing that there is air inside a basketball.

And if we’re not talking to Christians, then we’re telling a person who doesn’t believe in an admittedly invisible being that that self-same unseen being wrote a very visible book which is most evidently written by humans.

What, then, shall we say? Start with, “The Bible is coherent.” We Christians believe that both the Christian and the non-Christian/pagan/heathen can all understand the contents. No different than Romeo and Juliet or the Constitution of the United States of America. So start there.

Scrap all the virtue-signaling and holier-than-thou talk and just tell the truth. Say true sentences that are defensible to their core. Was the Bible written by God? I answer as a Holy Spirit filled follower of Jesus Christ and a literate human, “No.”