Nintendo Survey

My son is building a handheld gaming system for school.  Yes, he takes after me.  Why do you ask?

He’s basing it off of these two projects:


Super Game Pi

Part of the project is to get responses to a survey he created.  He’s only got about 20 so far, and he needs 100.  Would you consider spending a minute or two helping a kid?  Especially if you like Nintendo?


Farewell, and Godspeed

I learned how to raise one eyebrow because of Leonard Nimoy.  He expressed so much with that one gesture, and I wanted to do the same.

I didn’t realize how much Mr. Spock meant to me until today.  I didn’t realize that I would grieve the passing of the man who made him both the most human and the most iconic character of my childhood.  Right up until Star Wars came out and changed everything.

But Mr. Spock was still important.  He showed me that being smart and quiet were not faults, but traits worth celebrating.  He could have been the comic relief, the mocked sidekick, and instead he was the strength of the show, the moral and intellectual center. He embodied geekdom before we knew there were others like us, and we loved him for it.  We loved Kirk and Bones, Uhuru and Sulu, Chekhov and Scotty, but we wanted to be Spock.

Watching ST:TOS will never be the same, but I have not wanted to watch it more in the last thirty years as I do today.  Or maybe I’ll watch one of the movies, probably II or IV.  Maybe not Khan, now that I think of it.  That one may have to wait a week or two.  The video above almost did me in already.

Mr. Spock always raises the right eyebrow, but I was so young that I just imitated what I saw, and learned how to raise the left.  When I realized my mistake, I was in my twenties, and I discovered that I couldn’t raise the right on it’s own.  Still can’t.  But it doesn’t matter.

Tonight I’m just going to be trying not to cry.

Brian Williams knows stuff you don’t

So if you haven’t heard by now, Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, was caught lying about being in a helicopter hit by enemy fire.  His apology, that he doesn’t know how he “misremembered” such an incident, sounded very neutral, like he was reporting on someone else’s scandal, and not a very important one at that.

I wish I could find it, but I swear there is a commercial I have seen a few times, where Brian Williams talks about how you should watch NBC News, because they will go out and find the news you need to know.  And the unspoken implication is always, if you don’t see it on their show, it’s not news.  I’ll keep looking for the video, and I’ll put it up if I find it.

Feminist Music

I stumbled upon this over at Ace’s:

I think the funniest part is the fact that they have music stands set up, with sheet music that they occasionally refer to.  Evidently, they would not have been able to remember what they were supposed to sing otherwise.  Or perhaps which discordant note to hit.  Or which note they were supposed to avoid all together.  It’s hard to say what those sheets were instructing them to do.

Who should take care of the children?

I came across this at Ace of Spades the other night:

…doesn’t the responsibility of caring for the illegal immigrant children fall on the federal government? The very federal government which helped cause this crisis in the first place.

This comment was made about Glenn Beck’s efforts to raise money for the unaccompanied children streaming across the border.  Glenn has gotten a lot of criticism for his stance, mostly along the lines of “if you help them, it’s just going to encourage more of them.”

Here’s my take on it.  Asking the federal government of the United States to take care of children is the same as asking the thief to guard the bank, or the pederast to babysit (that last analogy may be closer to the truth than is comfortable).

Imagine this: thousands of children come to America, and before they are deported, only experience the bureaucratic nightmare of our government.  They are assigned a number and a folder, and are shuffled from place to place, with people yelling at them, abusing them, and treating them like animals or garbage.  Then they get sent back home, and they tell of the horror that used to be the Land of the Free.  They want nothing to do with anything American, and reject the philosophy and ideals of America out of hand.

Or this: thousands of children come to America, and before they are deported, they see ordinary citizens, with no government connection, trying to find out who they are and why they came, taking care of them one by one, as individuals who have inherent worth.  They still get sent back home, but now they have experienced what it means to be American, and they want it for their own people, and if that proves impossible, then they want to return to America and take their place as a new citizen.

Don’t let the government, especially at the federal level, care for anything that you don’t want broken, especially people.

How I spent Independence Day

On July 4th of this year, I was at the highest council Scout camp in America, Camp Steiner, elevation 10,400 ft.  It’s rocky, rough terrain, with two beautiful lakes, a wealth of tall pines, and several remaining snow banks, even in early July.  Our scout troop attended the whole week, but I was only there Thursday evening through Friday morning, helping in any way I could, and surprising my son, who was on his first long camp out (and who had no idea I was coming).

The evening of the 4th, the camp had their closing ceremonies for the week, held on the shore of Scout Lake, in an amphitheater with log seating, and two big fire bowls.  There was plenty of typical Scouting silliness: skits, cheers, stories, songs.  But there were two serious moments that affected me deeply.  The first was an official flag retirement ceremony.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one before, and I’m sure I did not realize that outside the military, only the Boy Scouts are authorized to conduct the ceremony.  It felt strange to see the flag burning in a respectful and solemn manner, after having seen images of it being burned in hate and acrimony around the world.  Everyone remained silent during the few minutes it took, and I have rarely witnessed a more patriotic scene.

The second thing was when they asked all the veterans in attendance to come forward to be recognized for their service to our country.  My son, sitting with his friends, turned around and said, “That’s you, dad!” and he was more correct than he knew.  There were probably twenty or twenty five adult leaders present, but apart from two staff members, I was the only one to come forward.  They looked good in their scout uniforms, and I felt dingy in my t-shirt and jeans.  But we stood there, and had a moment of silence for those had had served, and those who had paid for our freedom with their lives.

I know that the holiday is past, and everyone has gone back to their normal lives, with most people putting away thoughts of patriots, revolutions, and founding fathers until next year.  But the ideas behind our nation, the concept of government that must respect the people it serves, and the elevation of personal liberty at the expense of public conformity, continue to be of vital interest as our nation ages.  We have erred recently on the side of caution: we try and save people from being able to make bad choices, and try to nudge the electorate in the direction of greater state involvement in our daily lives.  But in the greater sense, our government is failing its primary duty, which is to secure our ability to work and live unmolested by others.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the rights that were enumerated to be natural, unalienable, and bestowed upon us not by man but by God.  But now our lives are not our own as we attempt to follow rules, regulations, and laws that are neither impartial nor equally applied.  Our government can take everything from us without due process, and can shoot us with impunity.  And we can only pursue our own happiness if does not offend those that are considered protected: gays, Muslims, blacks, women.  And our own happiness can be officially curtailed if we are in a category that is allowed, or even encouraged to be denigrated: Christians, Asians, conservatives, fathers.

There are ways of getting back to a better place.  One would be a Constitutional Convention, to curb the excesses of our government.  Another would be a to fix our educational system to teach our children why America is worth preserving.  But it all starts with us, as individuals.  What are we willing to do to make the changes?


Wizard’s Heir–free for the next five days


For the next five days, June 27 to July 1, the first book in Gwydion’s story is free on Amazon.

Wizard's Heir, by Michael A. Hooten
Free from June 27 to July 1

Gwydion ap Don is a talented harpist, and a known rogue. But his Uncle Math sees something more: a young man with the magical talent to succeed him as Lord Gwynedd. But to learn magic, Gwydion will also have to learn self-control, duty, honor, and the martial arts. He’s not sure which will be the hardest. And when his training in magic begins in earnest, his whole world will change, as well as how he sees himself.

Based on the ancient Welsh myths from the Mabinogion, but set in the world of Cricket’s Song, this new series looks at one of the three great bards of Glencairck, Gwydion. But long before he became a great bard, he had to learn how…

View original post 24 more words

Believing in something outside yourself is hard work

Since my last post, the woman who has been calling for LDS women to become priests has been excommunicated.  The church did not publish the announcement, she did, and even though it shows that her church leaders have been working with her officially since at least December of last year, she has been obstinate in her path.  Good for her, and I wish her well, but the freedom of association works both ways: any organization who feels that one of its members is working to undermine it declared principles is free to revoke that person’s membership.

But in wondering how to approach the subject, since it tends to be somewhat outside the average American’s understanding (the doctrine isn’t hard to follow, its just that most Americans don’t even realize that the LDS church can and does excommunicate people), I came across this article:

Religion shouldn’t be this hard.

An assembly that exists to help people shouldn’t be so willing to hurt people — by declaring them worthless, unacceptable, undesirable or strangers at the gate.

An assembly that should relax into the serenity of God’s unconditional love shouldn’t be so filled with hatred and fear.

An assembly that should do what Jesus did shouldn’t be so inwardly focused, so determined to be right, so eager for comfort, so fearful of failing.

An assembly that follows an itinerant rabbi shouldn’t be chasing permanence, stability and property.

An assembly whose call is to oneness and to serving the least shouldn’t be perpetuating hierarchies of power and systems of preference.

Faith should be difficult, yes, because it inevitably entails self-sacrifice and renewal. Life, too, is difficult. Dealing with Mammon is difficult. Speaking truth to power is difficult. Confronting our own weakness and capacity for sin is difficult.

It bothered me, and it took me a while to understand why.  He first says that Religion should not be hard, then explains failings of institutions of religion, then affirms that personal belief can indeed be challenging.  I’m sorry, but my understanding of religion is that it is personal first, and then organized.  Of course religion is difficult; we have to deny the selfish impulse, learn to think and care for others, and then work at putting our beliefs into practice in a world that does not often respect or reward those who do.

He says that religion shouldn’t be hard, and then proceeds to show why it is hard: because human beings have a natural tendency to gather together in groups that have similar beliefs, but without constantly working at practicing those beliefs, the gatherings tend to become corrupt, excluding some harshly, responding angrily to criticism, seeking after monetary or social gain instead of working together for the common good.

This article offends me because he paints every church with this broad brush, says that all assemblies suffer these problems, that any organization that professes to be religious in nature will suffer these issues.  And I call foul.

Any large institution can be faulted at some point for failing to live up to its ideals, but this applies to corporations, governments, and home owners associations as well as churches.  You don’t get a free pass to apply your critique solely to church organizations because you have “36 years of serving churches as a pastor and consultant”.  If anything, that kind of experience should allow you to understand that men will always turn to evil in any setting unless actively fighting the impulse.  It should show you that even bad men can repent of their bad choices and make good choices, affecting not just their lives, but the lives of many around them.

And you should have seen that for every person who changes for the better, a dozen more change for the worse, because that is the easy path.

Never forget that the itinerant rabbi drove people away from the Holy Temple.  That He healed, forgave, and then commanded: go forth and sin no more.  That His teachings, though full of love and acceptance, also affirmed that no imperfect creature could return to God.  And the church He belonged to cast Him out and had Him killed, and yet even when He overcame death, He never denounced that church, that religion, and had His disciples remain faithful members even as they tried to improve it.

Evil works very hard to defeat good.  We have to work harder to defeat Evil.  And this applies not just to our institutions, but to our own hearts most of all.

Religion was never meant to be easy.  It has all the forces of hell arrayed against it.