Friday, March 28, 2008

Madonna Is No Savior

I just came across an interesting article at MSN News. The opening paragraph said the following:
Madonna wants the media to leave Britney Spears alone. "They need to step off," she told the "Yo on E!" satellite radio show. "For real ... Let's go save her."
I agree with Madonna with regard to the media. However, in spite of Madonna's religious-sounding name, I've got news for her. She is incapable of "saving" Britney Spears, or anyone else for that matter. Only Jesus Christ can do that.

Then again, Madonna seems to think that she and Jesus are very much alike, judging by her stage act of a year or two ago, when she hung from a glittery cross, in a move which left many committed Christians feeling offended, appalled and outraged.

I guess that's what happens when a person such as Madonna is the recipient of undeserved adulation. Such a person sometimes develops an ego as large as the legendary Jumbo the Elephant. On other occasions, such a person becomes as much of a dysfunctional train wreck as Britney Spears has become. Sometimes both phenomena can be seen in the same person.

It seems to me that Britney and Madonna are both equally in need of salvation. But then again, the same thing could be said about you and me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Death By The Numbers

Today's edition of RedEye (published by the Chicago Tribune) reports that the total number of Americans killed in the Iraq war (which has lasted for five years) hit 4,000. So we're talking an approximate average of 800 deaths a year.

Democrats are appalled --- appalled, I say! --- by that number.

Now, I personally think that one unnecessary death is one unnecessary death too many. As one who obtained official status as a conscientious objector when I was called by my draft board in 1974 (shortly before the draft was abolished), no one with any brains would accuse me of being a warmongering ultraconservative.

However, I'd like to point out some inconvenient truths (to borrow Al Gore's phrase) which Democrats would prefer to gloss over or ignore.

  1. The total number of Americans killed during the Iraq war is roughly equivalent to the average number of unborn children killed in abortion clinics every single day of the year. (In an excellent article about how African Americans have been sold down the river by the Democratic party, Rev. Clinard Childress writes, "Each day, 1452 African Americans are murdered by abortion. 4,000 children over all.") Hey, Democrats, how about a sense of proportion? Is that asking too much?
  2. Unlike the aforementioned unborn children, most of the Americans killed in Iraq had a choice about whether or not to put themselves in harm's way, and most of them were well equipped to defend themselves.
  3. Unlike the aforementioned unborn children (many of whom have been killed for reasons which could only be described as frivolous), the Iraqi war was initiated at least partially for the purpose of deposing an incontestably evil dictator who was oppressing his own people. One may legitimately question whether the circumstances met the criteria of St. Augustine's "just war," but regardless, there is a world of difference between killing people in order to depose a leader who is guilty of gassing his own people to death and killing an unborn child because having a child would interfere with one's career plans.
  4. Very few Democrats are the pacifists they'd like you to think they are. With the notable exception of Mr. Obama, most Democratic leaders (including Hillary) voted to go to war. They now claim that they were deceived into doing so. Hey, since when are congressmen and senators incapable of conducting their own independent investigations? If they conducted such investigations and found nothing to persuade them to vote against the war, then how can they claim that they were deceived? If they found evidence that there were no actual weapons of mass destruction, and if they went ahead and voted to go to war anyway, then doesn't that make them even worse than President Bush and Colin Powell? If they didn't even bother to conduct their own research into the matter, then doesn't that just make them lazy and irresponsible? Any way that you look at it, it's utterly specious to claim that the Iraq war is solely a Republican war. The Democratic party bears a fair amount of the blame for the 4,000 deaths cited by RedEye. Therefore, it is irrational to base one's political affiliation on one's perception that this is somehow "Bush's war".
As I say, I am never happy when I learn about the preventable death of anyone. But it's clear to me, when I look at the actual facts of the matter, that it is the Democrats, not the Republicans, who deserve to be described as bloodthirsty.

That's particularly true of Barack Obama (notwithstanding his mild-mannered public demeanor). Not only is he extremely pro-choice when it comes to abortion, but he has even refused to endorse Illinois legislation which had the sole purpose of prohibiting infanticide, and which was written in such a way as to specifically limit the scope of that legislation to the killing of babies after they had been born.

What's particularly ironic is that many of the people now backing Obama are the same people whose denunciations of American soldiers during the Vietnam war included claims that our troops were "baby killers". Back then, they seemed to believe that killing babies was morally wrong and repugnant. Sadly, they seem to have changed their minds about that idea. Either that, or they're ignorant about what Obama really stands for.

John McCain might not be my first choice as President of the United States, since I would have preferred Alan Keyes or Mike Huckabee. But McCain is still a far better choice than anyone the Democrats currently offer to the American public.

UPDATE: McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate speaks very well for him indeed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Alcohol Killer Is Dangerous Stuff

I recently learned about a new drink with the intriguing name of Alcohol Killer.

Judging by the name of the product, one might be inclined to think that drinking the product neutralizes the effects of booze, allowing one to drink limitless amounts of liquor without ever getting drunk or suffering from a hangover the following morning. One might even think that the consumption of the product served as an inoculation against alcoholism.

Unfortunately, it does no such thing. At best, it might slightly reduce one's BAC (blood alcohol content). But the company's own website states that an independent European study showed that the product "did not reduce intoxication".

In a Chicago Reader ad, it states that Alcohol Killer "may help to eliminate the unfavorable effects of alcohol, as well as a hangover." What makes the ad noteworthy is its use of hedge words ("may" and "help"), which are clearly designed to make the company exempt from liability in any legal cases involving claims regarding the efficacy of the product. If the produce really "killed" alcohol, such hedge words wouldn't be needed, now would they?

I also love the way that the statement subtly implies (through the use of the phrase "as well as") that a hangover is not an unfavorable effect. I think that most people who've suffered from hangovers would beg to differ.

I have a suggestion for people who are looking for ways to eliminate hangovers and other unfavorable effects of alcohol consumption: DON'T CONSUME ALCOHOL!!! Duh.

It's not as if there is a shortage of delicious beverages which have no alcohol whatsoever. Personally, I'm partial to fruit juice and gourmet coffee.

Mormons might object to my consumption of coffee and tea and cola, but I've never heard about anyone dying behind the wheel or beating his wife and kids or suffering from delirium tremens as the result of drinking too many caffeinated beverages. I suppose that it's theoretically possible that a person who was sufficiently "wired" from caffeine could do one or more of those things, but it's a remote possibility at best. There's nothing remote about the harmful effects of alcohol abuse. Just ask an ER physician or nurse, if you don't believe me.

Short of total abstinence, the next best option would be to resolve that one would never under any circumstances continue to drink alcoholic beverages past the point where one first began to notice any kind of a "buzz" whatsoever.

But that, of course, would require a measure of self control. Americans aren't into self control. They'd rather think that they can make stupid choices and then buy and use additional products which will negate the effects of their stupidity.

The trouble with a product like Alcohol Killer is that most of the people who buy it and drink it won't bother to read the fine print. They'll see it as a license to drink even more than they normally drink. Consequently, whatever positive effects the beverage might bring in terms of reduction of BAC will be more than offset by the fact that it will encourage people to drink to excess.

The manufacturers of Alcohol Killer seem to assume that people who drink only do it for the great taste of the booze. They seem to assume that such people don't really want to get drunk. There may be some cases in which that's true, but there are a lot of other cases in which it's demonstrably false.

Let's be honest. Some alcoholic beverages taste pleasant, but there are others which taste more or less like turpentine. People put up with the nasty taste (or gradually get used to it) only because they desire the buzz they can get by drinking the stuff. It's very similar to smoking in that respect.

Bartenders are sure to love Alcohol Killer. They can sell even more booze, and then deny responsibility for the tragic consequences of their sales transactions.

As the son of a man who was an alcoholic when he died in 1999, I have personally experienced the destructive effects of alcohol abuse. And I can say with unequivocal certainty that Alcohol Killer is not the answer to the problem. The answer, rather is to follow the advice offered by the Bible, in Ephesians 5:18:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

3:16 Haiku

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry which has been Westernized by Americans and others.

I read an article not long ago which defined "haiku" as any poem consisting of three lines with 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively.

Reading the lengthy article on the subject at Wikipedia has subsequently made me aware that that definition is a bit simplistic. Nevertheless, it also seems apparent from the article that the definition of the haiku form of poetry has become blurry, in part because of intrinsic differences between English and Japanese cultures and languages.

Some American poets have indeed created poetry based primarily on the assumptions expressed in the first paragraph of this blog. Therefore, regardless of whether or not it's "authentic" haiku, I thought I'd try my hand at writing some poems which met those parameters. I ended up writing ten poems of that type in all. Almost all of those poems had a Christian theme (which, in itself, would probably be deemed inauthentic by most Japanese people, since Buddhism is the predominant religion in that country).

Here's an "American haiku" poem which I created, based on John 3:16 from the Bible:

God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son
just to die for you.

Aside from the necessity of dropping the word "begotten" and adding the final line, the poem practically wrote itself.