Rube Goldberg My Eye

Recently, listening to someone that I thought I respected, I was told that I shouldn’t use “Rube Goldberg” methods in trying to solve problems.  The person in question had seen how over the years, I would use any means at hand, complicated or simple, to accomplish the goals set before me.  This often resolved into not pursuing the goals any further because this person couldn’t understand how I got there. Continue Reading »


On Thursday, the 14th of June, Flag Day of all days, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited a passage of the Letter of Paul to the Roman church. Specifically, he referenced the following:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Romans 13:1‭-‬4 NIV

Sessions referenced this passage as he spoke to law enforcement during a speech in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He was commenting on his department’s zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration on the southwest border. This policy has caused controversy and dissension because it requires that children be separated from their parents and detained while the parents are arrested. It also requires detaining unaccompanied minors instead of release to other familiy members.

I am not going to tackle the thorny issue of whether or not children should be separated and detained because I consider it wrong. Period. The only passage of scripture I need for this reasoning is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is from the Law of Moses and reiterated by Jesus.

What I am going to comment on is the lack of insight and incorrectness of Session’s use of scripture in this manner.

First and foremost, while I believe any Christian in public service should neither deny nor hide their faith (or leave it at the door as some suggest), we should not quote scripture in “mixed company” or act as if scripture is somehow binding upon non-believers.

While all of scripture is “God-breathed and useful for instruction”, it doesn’t apply to believer and non-believer equally. Scripture was written to the church. In the case of the Old Testament, it was written to the nation of Israel. The Mosaic Law was binding on Israel only (with some rare cases involving non-Hebrew people living among the Israelites and taking part in ceremonial holidays).

Except for what we believe is the call that Jesus wishes to reach and include all peoples everywhere in His kingdom, most of scripture isn’t binding on non-believers. Therefore, it is arrogant of Jeff to reference a word from the Apostle Paul as if it applies to everyone or that it is useful for him to admonish non-believers concerning Paul’s words. Paul’s words admonish and instruct the Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ that lived in Rome (his audience) and by extension those of us that profess Christ.

Second, use of this passage must remain in context with what Paul meant it to mean for his audience, the Roman church. Paul wrote a church he had never visited. He knew very few of the congregants. But, the church lived in a turbulent time. Nero is Caesar. The great fire of Rome had yet to occur, but when it does, Nero will not just fiddle around, he will do what other politicians do; look for a scapegoat. He will find his scapegoat in Christians. It is written that when Nero began the persecution, he lined the roads with the burning bodies of Christians upon the cross. Therefore, Paul was urging his audience to not stir up any trouble unnecessarily. He does this by telling them to recognize Rome’s authority just as if it came from God.

While that may sound like a rough thing to say concerning Rome’s behavior towards Christians or any group they disliked. Roman Jews had just recently been allowed to return after being expelled by Emperor Claudius for several years. It was important that the Roman believers live as good citizens despite the bad actions of their government.

While I understand that some American preachers used this passage in the past to uphold slavery, I reject that in the same manner for the same reasons. We can only seek to understand the principle as it applies to us, the believers in America. We have to be very careful with literalness and legalism here (if you want to know more about what Paul said about legalism, read the 14th chapter of Romans and Galatians, it ain’t pretty).

The principle we can glean from Paul’s words here is to be good citizens, even when it seems difficult. We have to behave as if he (with me its not ‘as if’ but He really does) appoints our leaders. Do I like the way many in authority treat the church (universal meaning) or its members? Do I like believers having to go to court to defend their right to uphold their own faith? Do I like it that the electorate chose Trump? The short answer to all of these is, “No!” My nature is to fight, to have it fixed, to win out over those persecuting Christians. And, if you think that our persecution is less than others, you’d be right…and wrong.

We are still called to be good citizens of our cities, states, and nation even when we disagree with its policies (like separating kids from parents in immigration battles). Our system does allow us to band together and petition our elected officials to change their minds. Our system does allow us access to courts to defend our beliefs. Our system of laws does not allow us to hurt others, start riots, or any other sort of mayhem. We are called to be good citizens so that we don’t bring a bad reputation upon Christ, His Word, or His people. Yes, you can carry that out where it is headed, but remember, non-believer–while it is my belief that you cannot be held to my faith’s tenets in public, it also does not afford you to criticize believers. That is our job to handle, just as I am doing here.

While the bigger picture of illegal immigration is that the current “zero tolerance” policy is wrong, it is also wrong for Jeff to use scripture as a support for his enforcement of that policy. I use ‘Jeff’ because I’ll not consider him above me in this matter. He is an equal brother and I’ll talk about him that way. Paul’s admonition to believers to be good citizens applies to the Roman church that is his audience and can be extended to us as a good principle to live by. However, it cannot be construed to mean that when the laws allow us remedy that we should avoid that either, Paul didn’t.

It is true that the best quote from this portion of Romans would be good for all believers concerning immigration issues, “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others, has fulfilled the law.” We’d all be better off if we took care of those less fortunate than ourselves. God told Israel through the prophet Malachi that if they lived according to God’s intentions and brought their own sacrifice into practice that they would receive a bounty without measure. I believe if we as Americans did right by our neighbors that want to live with us and work that our GDP would be more than sufficient for all of us. I truly believe that. Why won’t you?

I spend a lot of time on Twitter.  Possibly, I spend too much time there.  I’ve always viewed Twitter as a good social media platform for writers because it forces you to be precise and succinct about your words.  When you only have (had) 140 characters in which to say something, it drives you to think.  Lamentably, doubling the number of characters and adding features to help you write longer threads isn’t helping that Twitter virtue.

Lately, Twitter has become a virtual ideological and political battleground.  The right and the left spend lots of time behind their virtual defenses lobbing word and meme bombs across the DMZ inhabited by those in the center and the ones just there for dog posts.  And, so do I.

My primary issue that I support on Twitter is defense of the 2nd amendment.  I got into doing this just by listening to what others were saying and then responding when I thought there was a myth to dispel or another person that could use some support.

However, beyond gun rights, I’m pretty liberal in many respects, kind of a conservative liberal.  I don’t like the GOP because it seems to care little for the middle class.  Continuing to practice Reagan’s trickle-down economics is foolish (yet, Reagan was a favorite President).  I would prefer systems that care for everyone at every level of the economic strata (i.e. Universal Basic Income, National Healthcare, immigration work visas, etc.).  Add on to that the GOP’s penchance for legislating morality is ridiculous.

Yet, when I talk to a lot of people on Twitter, I find two different types of people that aren’t like me, but I still follow them.  Some are the MAGA Trump followers that say something really good about gun rights. Some are very liberal gun control folks that debate well and do so respectfully.

Do I agree with the MAGA folks?  Certainly not in many areas.  I dislike Trump.  I dislike his character and yes, his character and his behavior as a President go hand in hand.  Can’t have one without the other.  I will agree he has done very well on the foreign policy front, but I think his domestic policies just suck.

However, when I look at the profiles of many of the MAGA folks that I do follow, I find just very good down to earth people.  Many of them are new to social media, like me.  Many of them do not have millions (or even thousands) of followers.  So, by following them, I generally hear a good voice and I can support another person’s use of social media.

Do I agree with the very liberal liberals?  Certainly not in many areas.  While I want an immigration system that allows poor people from other countries to come to the US to work and build a better life, I don’t want them to do so illegally.  While I support a woman’s right to choose, I find the use of abortion as a birth control measure to be abhorrent.  It is OK for you to choose to be gay or transgender (many of whom are dealing with biology, not choices); yet, pushing measures to force me to abandon my beliefs in favor of yours doesn’t win me over.  Yet, when I find a liberal person, more liberal than myself, that can debate responsibly and respectfully, I consider it respectful to listen.

And, just a caveat to those that say many of things I would advocate for can’t be done, or are socialist, or communist; I just say bullshit.  We may have many obstacles in the way of accomplishing these things to establish the country we should be, but we can overcome obstacles.  Obstacles are easy.  Ordering your mind is hard.

We do ourselves a great (and grave) disservice if we listen only to those that are mimics of what we believe already.  By not listening to opposing voices we overlook the possiblity of discovering the idea that will make something work.  No. I don’t give an inch on my beliefs with others and I’m very outspoken about what those are.  I just know I have to think about what I believe and check to see if it is still holding up to scrutiny (mine, not yours). There are lots of good voices out there on social media.  It is work to weed through the noisy voices to get to the ones of quality, but it is worth the effort.

It was my intention to begin a series of threads on Universal Basic Income (UBI). However, the recent events in Santa Fe, TX have caused me to go back to my earlier rants about anti-gun philosophies.

I am calling these threads as I intend to publish them on Twitter. Though the platform has begun to allow the use of 280 characters, longer thoughts simply don’t fit. Yes, it would be better to just write a blog post such as this on WordPress.com. However, when I do, and I post the blog on Twitter, no one reads it. But, post a Twitter thread and it gets read immediately.

This past Friday, a deeply troubled young man gained access to his father’s shotgun and .38 revolver, went to his high school in Santa Fe, TX and killed 10 people, mostly students, one teacher, wounded 13 others, including police officers then surrendered.

Note that in this case there was no AR-15, no “assault” weapon, and seemingly, no failures in our law enforcement system. I was not surprised that social media was immediately ablaze with rhetoric about another mass shooter with an AR-15. Yet, when corrected, the ranters were still ablaze.

On the one hand, they should be ablaze. We have a problem in our society, especially concerning our teens in high schools. Santa Fe was not the only school shooting since Parkland; yet, as several of those were foiled by quick thinking officers, we heard little. Wonder why?

Yes, dear readers, it seems that the anti-gun advocates cries of “we don’t want to take ALL your guns, just the bad ones”, wasn’t the real truth. Now, we begin to hear the real agenda, “We want ALL your guns.” Why do you think that gun owners resist these attempts without fail? It’s because we know the real agenda. We have for quite some time now. We don’t believe you any more.

The safety bubble that you live in does not exist. All crime and shootings will not immediately cease to be if the law abiding gun owners turned in their guns. It hasn’t happened in Australia. It didn’t happen in the UK or Europe. It will not happen here. The bad guys will keep their guns and when the rest of us do not have sufficient firepower to stand against the criminal, the criminal will win.

Anti-gun crowd: “But, at least there will be less mass shootings, less murder, less killing!”

I have stated this before, and I will state it again here for you. The standard for us giving up our guns is not LESS. The only standard where we are willing to give up our right to bear arms is ZERO! Zero chance of murder. Zero chance of home invasion. Zero chance of bad guys taking over our government. Zero chance of any need for self defense.

Anti-gun crowd: “But, that will never exist. No one can guarantee that level of safety!”

Bingo! We have a winner! That is absolutely true and agreeable. On this side of heaven and Christ’s return those conditions will not exist; therefore, we will not stop fighting for the right we have to self defense. It is not logical to blame the overwhelming majority of gun owners and carriers that abide by our laws, don’t cause problems, and on the contrary, provide safety as needed. That’s not common sense.

Anti-gun crowd: “Well, what’s your solution then?”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question. Again and again, gun owners give many good solutions for the problems in our schools and in society. Harden our schools against bad guys. Do this by limiting access into the schools. Which means one or more of the following: metal detectors, controlled access doors, funnelling, armed guards or police, armed teachers. Those are all good choices for our schools many of which can be done without excessive cost or without upsetting the anti-gun crowd.

Yes, we have existing gun laws that need strengthening. States and counties need to be required to submit those folks that aren’t permitted to purchase or possess firearms to the NICS database promptly and without fail. Restraining orders and other types of situations involving domestic abuse need to be reported correctly to NICS quickly. Laws for the removal of firearms from someone involved in these situations needs to be written well and enacted, not vaguely, not leaving loopholes, and always with due process in view.

However, when we propose any of these solutions to the anti-gun crowd, the response is always: “So, what’s your solution?” The response is the same because the only response the anti-gun crowd wants to hear is, “Ban all the guns!”

It is horrendous that these types of school shootings continue. However, we allow some things that feed the beast. We allow the shooter to be recognized, splashed across media, and then glorified by others. No we don’t do it intentionally for this purpose, but it happens. It has at least since Columbine. While there is a need to know by the public, we also need a system in our press to minimize the exposure of the shooter so that other disturbed young people cannot latch onto an exemplar. This in no way means we wish First Amendment restrictions. It is something that our national press has to figure out and accomplish on their own. They are bright people. They need to work on it.

I don’t even have time to go into the mental health debate as that would require another lunch and a lantern.

Yes, guns are dangerous. They kill. I hope we can at least learn that it is not the type of gun that is the problem, though that is of little solace. I hope that the crowd that is just venting emotion will settle down and get some sense back. But, it is good to know that the anti-gun folks are now telling the truth. It is much easier to deal with any issue when both sides are honest. And, yes, I’ll be honest: the right to self defense existed long before the Constitution and regardless what the anti-gun crowd does, I’ll not back down. I’ll not give in. I’ll keep mine.

Because of the age we live in, there are many people that do not own guns of any kind. This is not judgment, just an observation. I also perceive there are many people that can look back at parents and possibly grandparents to find that no one in their direct family ever owned a gun. I think it is also possible that quite a few folks can look to their circle of friends and discover that no one they know well owns or ever has owned a gun.

I get that, and it is a good thing in some respects. There is no compunction these days to need a gun of any type. It is good to know that so many people can feel safe enough that they do not need the protection of a firearm. However, that also leads to ignorance.

Now, before you crucify me for offending you or someone you know concerning ignorance, I am not using the pejorative use of the term ‘ignorance’, as in, “That fellow is ignorant.” On the contrary, I am using the term to mean a lack of knowledge. In more detail, I also view it to mean a lack of knowledge for something that is readily available.

It never fails that in any discussion on situations like mass shootings where an AR-15 is involved to hear one or more of the following questions or statements:

“Why do you need an AR-15?”

“Nobody needs an AR-15.”

You can also substitute the terms assault rifle, assault weapon, military weapon, or military grade weapon for AR-15. All of these are interchangeable according to most of our press and the non-gun owning public. However, if you’ll have a little patience, pull up your caffeinated beverage of choice and follow along, I’ll do my best to explain the answer to the question.

Please do remember that the opinion I give is mine alone and also my own experiences and observations. While many of my friends and associates will say similar things as I do about AR-15’s, that is not a guarantee.

First, I’ll use the simple answer for those that may have closed minds or closed opinions on the matter. I don’t “need” an AR-15. If this is all that you wish to hear, you can run along now and I’ll not expand your knowledge at all. Yes, that may be a bit blunt but I also know that there are folks that this is all they wish to hear. If you want to know why I put the word “need” in quotes, please read on.

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The news and social media outlets are ablaze with President Donald Trump’s newest proposal to mitigate the spate of school shootings the US has experienced. He proposes that teachers receive a bonus (I think the value would be $1,000US) to cover training to carry in the classroom. Some of those words are my paraphrase. There are many detractors and supporters on both sides, but the primary difficulty is that we keep using the wrong words and ideas to describe the issue.

I can’t speak for all gun owners or carriers. I can’t speak for all teachers. Technically, I am not a teacher even though I do hold a Masters in Education. That is because the sector is woefully underpaid for a craftsman of my experience to maintain a living being a teacher. I haven’t spent enough time in a classroom to be called a teacher, but that doesn’t mean I am ignorant of what they go through either.

My classroom time is limited to the year I spent substituting in my district after completing my education. Because of the favorable arrangement with my day job at the time, I was able to spend about 1 to 2 days every two weeks in a class, as well as a couple of weeks for some substitute jobs.

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Before I begin getting into my ideas about gun control, mass shootings, the alleged assault rifle question (and on and on and on), it is probably best to start with the why I think like I do, why I act like I do, which “side” am I on type of questions. Please feel free to refer back to this post when your Spock eyebrow goes up because of something I said. It will likely make better sense if you start here.

What is there about what I do or what I know that gives me any authority on the subjects of gun control or school shootings? That is a fair question and a good one, even if I asked it of myself. If you are going to listen to anyone on the debate, you should first find out what they know about the subject matter. Simply because you own a gun doesn’t make you an expert on gun control. Simply because you’ve survived a school or mass shooting doesn’t instantly make you an expert on gun control. Being an elected official doesn’t automatically make you an expert on gun control.

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