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Monday, February 29, 2016

Choosing the lesser of 2 evils .... or not

     Back in 1987 I was working in Massachusetts and I was on a company softball league of other fellow engineers.   Even though I grew playing sports, sadly that was not the case for many of my peers on the team.  We decided on a team name called : None of the Above.   To illustrate its meaning our shirts were printed with a check-off-list of items related to the question at the top that said

     "Our team can: "
  • Hit
  • Catch
  • Pitch
  • Run
  • None of the Above
     You can guess which item on the list had a check mark next to it.

     On Facebook a friend named Barbara posted, "We must select the lesser of 2 evils" to which I responded, "Would you vote for Hitler if the only other choice was Stalin?".   Their answer was simply "No".  Of course no one is calling Trump Hitler or Hillary Stalin but it goes to show you that not all choices are simply between the lesser of 2 evils and sometimes it's none-of-the-above.

    As a Christian, some often make you feel like "not-voting" or "voting for a 3rd party" is some sort of mortal and unforgivable sin.   Back in 1992, a fairly large group of disaffected voters cast their vote for an outsider by the name of  Ross Perot who had caught the eye of many Republicans for his "no-nonsense-approach" to government spending.   As this split the GOP vote, it allowed Bill Clinton to come into the White House with a dismal 42% of the vote.   And the same might happen again, only instead of the vote being split between 2 people it could be split between Trump and that other outsider candidate called "none of the above".    But if you recall, from the 1992 election what happened was of not much consequence.   We are still here.  The world still spins on its axis and God still reigns.

    People get their necks all out of joint on this issue.   They almost turn purple in the face when they say "Do you want Hillary to roll into office?", like as if the world is going to end.   Of course I don't want Hillary in office, but I won't sacrifice my morals and faith to do that.   I will still vote, but it will probably be a write-in for Ted Cruz instead.    How have we gone from George Washington, who tried as hard as he could be be ethical, moral and straight with the American people to voting for a man who lies, cheats, calls people stupid, ugly, liars, dumb, and says he can't remember asking God for forgiveness for anything.  

     Jesus said, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth".   The political system here is just a temporary system until God comes to make all things right.   The Constitution did not come down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments.   It's a man-made invention and an attempt to bring a just system to help us get along.  I personally think its the best one we have going so far that allows the most personal freedom, but not everyone likes freedom (sad).  God will still reign on his throne and will still accomplish his goals for our world somehow, even if Hillary becomes POTUS.  The people of Israel were often frustrated in trying to understand God's will for them.  They wanted to return back to the good old years of King David or King Solomon, but they were constantly under other peoples control.  First it was Alexander the Great and then later it was the Roman Empire.   They tried everything they could to fix the situation, but nothing seemed to change.   Yet it was through the Greek and Roman Empires that God brought the Messiah.   These empires made it possible and also easier to spread the gospel to millions of more people.   God's will was accomplished.

     Maybe our desire for a new "Reagan" is much like their need for a new "King David".   It's a selfish desire and a short-sighted goal and not in keeping with God's will at this time.

    And really, isn't God's will what it's really about in the end?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Do you ignore bad information on purpose?

   Several years ago I remember reading an article that said humans are programmed to ignore information that is severely traumatizing.  This is referred to as "intentional blindness".   An example of this was a case when an airplane mid-flight had an engine catch fire and was forced to return to the airport.   While no one was hurt, many people on the side of the plane where the engine was reported looking out the planes window and seeing nothing wrong despite flames clearly seen coming out the back of the engine.   Some theorize its the brains own coping mechanism to handle stressful situations.  

    We all do it to some level.   Parents do it when their son or daughter is not doing well at school and they pull away from the family and become reclusive.   We tell ourselves "it's just a phase" or "normal teenage rebellion", when in reality they are skipping school,  getting caught with drugs and becoming an addict.   Eventually something happens that forces the parent out of their intentional blindness to wake them up and get them back to what is really going on.   Hopefully before it's too late.

    I have also seen this intentional blindness in the news lately.   Recently Wall Street has been crumbling under the fall of global oil prices.   Normally the fall of oil would be a cause of celebration on Wall Street as it would mean lower gas prices and therefore more money for Americans to spend as well as lower energy costs for corporations which would lead to larger profits.    But today we live in an upside down world.   The fall in oil prices is from a fall in demand for oil which means we are seeing the advent of a global recession.   The reason is simple.  Oil is so needed for a growing economy (energy, chemicals, plastics etc.) that if the demand is down it means that the economy is slowing and therefore Wall Street falls.   So what is Wall Streets answer?   Have these countries cut their production and bring oil prices back up (law of supply and demand says prices rise either when demand increases or supply falls).     Is the recession over?  No.  It's just covered up the problem.   Demand is still down and the recession continues.  But for Wall Street they pretend its all fine now and the stock market "rallies" on the news.   This also shows that Wall Street is no longer connected to Main-Street.    Where as in the past lower gas prices was a good thing and higher gas prices was a bad thing, now it just doesn't matter at all what happens to us as a nation.   Wall Streets rules have no bearing on how things go in the real world at all.   It's all just a game to them.   But their game is short sighted.   Had they let oil prices continue to fall, we would be better off.   Families would have more disposable income.  Small businesses would have more profits to hire more people.   Profits would go up.  Un-employment would go down.   Wall Street would eventually see REAL profits come back (not just ones on paper) and would have real good news to celebrate.

    This intentional blindness is not limited to the stock brokers on Wall Street either.   Recently I was talking to another co-worker about how the technology world is headed for a cliff when it can no longer continue doubling the number of transistors on a chip every 2 years.   I wrote in a former piece about how the transistors are so small now that the width of the transistor is so small that the number of silicon atoms it takes to make one is in the low double digits now (about 40).  In order to cut the size by half would mean we would have to go down to 20,10,5,2,1 (5 more doubles) and most feel you can't go past 10 atoms with any amount of reliability.     Faced with this FACT, my co-worker simply shrugged and said, "Oh I am sure they will figure out a way" and moved on.   He is not alone. Most people in my field don't want to face this immutable fact either and are making no plans for their future.   I have been in the business for 30 years and I have lived through 15 "doublings" but most kids coming out of college now with computer engineering degrees will only see 1-2 more doublings.   Then what?    Cross that bridge when it comes?  

      The same happened when I first started work in 1986.  My first job was at a company called Data General in Westboro Massachusetts.   It was an off-shoot of Digital Corporation and made deep-freezer sized computers called "mini-computers" (mini because they were smaller than large IBM main-frames).   To those at Data General mini-computers were all the rage and new small micro-computers were scoffed at.   How could these little computers take on the large takes these mini-computers could do?   To them, mini-computers were always going to be around and most of the workers there continued their work like all was well.   But we all know now mini-computers became out-dated dinosaurs of the technology world.   They just could not compete.    Those at the top of the company became victims of their own intentional blindness. 

    Where do you allow yourself to be intentionally blinded to the facts?   At home?  At work?  Our political system?   Our financial system?   Knowing this, what changes would you make?   Like those on the airplane who shut their windows and pretended all was fine with the engines, maybe they would have started preparing for a crash landing or alerting others to what the problem was.   

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

God has never been on America's side

   As I've grown older (I am now 51 as I write this) my attitude of God and Country has changed.   When I was younger I grew up in the Cold War days in which many Christians felt that a war of good verses evil was taking place between Communist Russia and the USA.   We watched the Olympics as a competition between God and Satan taking place on a human arena.   It was all very black and white.

   Today the war between the US and Russia still flares up with Putin moving into the Ukraine and his support for the leader of Syria.   New threats have also emerged with the rise of ISIS and many other anti-Jewish and anti-Christian religious coalitions that threaten our freedoms and our lives around  the world.  Many feel the US should stand up to these threats and in doing so believe God is on our side in our decisions. 

   That is how I too used to think.

    But now I don't think God is on our side.  God is on God's side and he will do as he will to save as many as he can for eternity.   Take for example the story of Jonah , the reluctant prophet.  During his life, Israel was under attack of the Assyrians and they had taken away 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel as slaves, never to be heard from again.   Yet God wanted to save an Assyrian city by the name of Nineveh.   Jonah had other thoughts on the matter.   He ran away on a boat headed as far west as it could take him and it took a whale to bring him back.   Why?  Not because he didn't think it worth going.  No.  Because he knew God would save Nineveh and spare them the destruction.  Jonah wanted nothing to do with it.  God was on Israel's side, how could he do this?   Answer, because he loves them.   God had a plan and he was going to make it happen no matter what Jonah thought on the matter.

    We also, look at ISIS as they call for our destruction and rape, pillage and murder innocent Christians and other people they don't agree with.   We, like Jonah, want God to obliterate them and send them to hell for all the evil they have brought to this world.  But God calls us to love them and pray for them and return good for evil.   We must somehow try to seem them as people trapped by Satan and used as pawns.  We must look beyond the physical as Paul says, "We don't fight against flesh and blood, but against the powers and principalities in the heavenly realms".   God has a plan to ultimately destroy the evil in the world, but now he must see to it that as many people can be saved as possible. I am not saying we don't use our worldly military force to squash evil where it exists in this world and threatens our existence. No, we need to stand up to evil whenever and wherever we can.  But it cannot be our only response.  We must pray for the people in these countries that God's word and Gospel can reach them too.  

    I see God using this present evil to show the world that it cannot hide in ignorance of pretending that evil does not exist anymore.   It cannot pretend that somehow we created an inoculation against it and eradicated like Polio or Small Pox.   It's still here and you must decide which side you are on.   Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Osama Bin Laden,  Al Qaeda, ISIS, the list goes on of people and groups that God has allowed to rise up and show us that sin and evil persist and man is not impervious to their plans as you might think.    Evil is not a pre-1900 issue, but is a 2016 and beyond issue.   

    Next, we must stop thinking that somehow God's support of us can be bought by performing the right kinds of deeds or electing the right kind of leaders.   I cringe whenever I hear a Christian leader in the media make the plea to "Put God back into America", like as if he is a misplaced item on a shelf.   God uses who he wills for his purpose.   Did God use the Roman Empire?  Of course he did.  Even though the Jews prayed constantly for Rome to be removed from their country and restore the kingdom to David's line God had other better plans.

   One good thing I see of ISIS is it has caused the media to take a closer look at Islam and Christianity.   Recently I saw a piece that did a fair comparison contrast between the two religions and the differences could not be more stark.    Would this have ever happened without ISIS?  Probably not.  Most would go on their merry and ignorant path of "All religions are the same" but now they could not do that anymore.   Something was different and it needed to be looked at closer. Maybe those people doing their research into these differences will be brought to faith in Christ.   Maybe people on the religious fence will finally choose a side to be on.   Maybe those who would never had cracked a bible in the past will finally read some passages and see Jesus beyond the TV sitcom references.   Maybe those in Europe who thought religion issues were non-issues who now see their culture being transformed by the massive influx of people from the Middle East will need to return to their religious roots and take a stand against this slow invasion of their lands.

    Whatever the case may be, God's will is being done and his goal for us and all of humanity is being fulfilled.