A Happy Dog’s plan

Note: Due to like 5 facebook likes, Happy Dog has agreed to share some of her campaign secrets, because she is on the dog line and can’t do anything to stop us.

Hi there. It’s me again. I am a bit tied up right now, but I’m hoping that if I get a good enough following, some of you dogs might, I don’t know, try to attack the chickens yourselves. In case you are wondering, here are some strategies on how to approach a chicken coop without being caught.

1. Observe the behavior of the chickens closely. Figure out who is the alpha chicken

Watch the chickens to find out which ones to attack.

Watch the chickens to find out which ones to attack.

and who is the fattest. These two factors are very important. Observing chickens is very easy. Since most chicken cages are made out of chicken wire or at least wire mesh, all a dog has to do is sit down with your nose at most one and a half inch away from the wire, and follow those feathery things with your head.

This action must be done very carefully. Any revelation of a tongue or a wagging tail could give you away. It is a good idea to select the leader as your target and to make sure that they aren’t the kind that attacks dogs. We have a hen named Jezebel that likes to peck and scratch. We avoid her.

2. Find a weak spot in their defenses. This may be harder to do undetected than simply watching. This step includes digging a small hole under an intersection and sticking your nose in it to test depth, jumping on top of the pen, and scratching at the wires. If you fail to do it when no one is looking, they will chain you up for trying to break in.

Plotting the demise of those crooked little chickies is exhausting.

Plotting the demise of those crooked little chickies is exhausting.

3. Of course, the actual break-in must go on at night, so make sure to get a lot of rest in the daytime. I would say that 5 to 6 hours is a good limit. You must get a lot of sleep so that you can do your reconnaissance and actual attack after the family and the BB guns are asleep.

4. Pick your followers carefully. If you don’t do this right, you might get stuck with the average mutt that doesn’t care for revenge, just likes chewing wood. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying much attention and was stuck with such an assistant. He chewed up the lid to the nesting box so loudly that the family woke up before the raid was complete. But I’ll have my chance.

5. Find out when your people go on vacation. Sometimes pet watchers can be careless. Always be prepared to jump out at a moment’s notice. And before hand, make up a good reputation, so they will never suspect.

Well, Good Dogs, I hope you will take my advice and get the invaders in your neighborhoods. If we all work together, inflamed with passion against the infidel chickies…sorry, wrong word. If we work together, we will be able to drive out the invaders, and the country will be in peace once more!

Fort McChicken

Alter or Abolish: the Right of the People

Most Americans take for granted that there should be government, but few ever wonder why government exists in the first place: to protect rights.

The current size and scope of our highly centralized federal government does not fit within the justification for its existence. Washington is involved in nearly every aspect of the private sector, from regulating projects like the Keystone Pipeline to subsidizing 2% organic milk to educating children. Entire agencies have been formed to promote scientific advances and artistic endeavors, to increase the efficiency of engines, and even to force dietary standards on the public.

While eventually these functions are deemed as the government’s duty and even declared necessary, irreplaceable state tasks, the medicine of interventionism is a useless placebo, offering nothing but ills and more ills: rampant cronyism, unabashed corruption, and an unnecessary regulatory system, to name a few.

Washington's intrusions have gone too far. It's time to alter or abolish the governmental institutions that are no longer in existence to protect rights, but to deny them.

Washington’s intrusions have gone too far. It’s time to alter or abolish the governmental institutions that are no longer in existence to protect rights, but to deny them.

The federal government has long refused to recognize the right to life. It has altogether disregarded the right to liberty, as it enforces petty standards and bows at the altar of special interests. With its oppressive and exorbitant taxes (Frederic Bastiat described taxes funding an interventionist state as legal plunder), it denies the right to property—earnings are the physical representation of a man or woman’s work, and the theft of which is a theft of life itself.

In the fray, legislators have lost sight of the ultimate reason for government’s existence: to protect rights. When the state varies its mission statement from this basic message, that is the moment when it ceases to be a legitimate government.

The Declaration of Independence puts it this way, “… whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it …”

For years, citizens have—to no avail—tried to alter the federal government, as did the original thirteen colonies before they severed their ties with Britain in 1776. Not only is Washington no longer involved in protecting rights, it has reversed its proper role.

In the course of human events, there is a time when it becomes necessary for men to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to one another.

For Texas, this time has come. We have every right to proceed.

Kingpin

Genesis 10:8-10, 11:1-2

Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man.  He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.”  The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.  And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

When the ring was destroyed, Sauron’s power crumbled. His armies were scattered like ants whose queen had been destroyed, and all the enchanted beasts that had been tricked into coming ran away to their homes. J.R.R. Tolkein, in his book, The Return of the King,  wrote that the losing armies were like witless animals running in circles.

In another fictional account, The evil Cecil was finally arrested. The people that he had imprisoned rose up against him and destroyed his ships, until his men fled. The kingpin was destroyed, and no one could rally the men.

In one of my courses, I had to finish a game. It was a Jail Break game, two players, and consisted of good guys, bad guys, and a Kingpin. If you knocked out the kingpin, you would win. If not, they would win.

The tendency of human nature is to follow men. Nimrod was a mighty hunter, Sauron a sorcerer, Cecil a rich crime boss. They had power and resources to boast many followers. Some followed by choice, others by compulsion. But we want to have someone to follow, someone to pledge allegiance to.

Even in the church, we have a habit of following one person. We trust them and want to be able to look to them for our example. We forget that we are only fallible human beings. Men cannot be our examples, because they are fallen as we are. But we still try to pledge allegiance to someone famous, because it makes us feel better.

Paul ran into this problem when he was trying to preach in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 1: 12-13, he wrote “What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

One of the reasons that this is dangerous is when we elevate people to places that they never belonged in. When they become proud and fall into sin, we are crushed, because the hero has fallen. And Satan loves it.

We need to be careful not to put our faith in men, but in God. Men are Mortal, God is Perfect. It seems like a clear choice to me.

Confessions of a happy dog

My torment must cease. We must disarm Fort McChicken.

My torment must cease. We must disarm Fort McChicken.

Hi. I’m not going to reveal my name, but I must admit that I am being tortured by my own lusts. I cannot help it, I see a chicken, and imagine drumsticks and wings with barbecue sauce.

I used to be a perfectly normal dog. I fetched sticks and ran off with them, I tolerated cats, was faithful to my people, and never bit the baby. I always did my best to chase off deliverymen and UPS people, I never stole food off the table. And then they came.

I was surprised when my kids began building a large wooden structure in the backyard. I had a vague suspicion that it might be a kennel, but I kept my distance. I had no suspicions of what would happen next. It hit me like a freight train.

 

Twelve cheeping chickies. As soon as I saw them my whole being changed. Instead of being a faithful dog, protector of all life on the property except cats, I became a skulking, restless being that wanted chicken. Those chicks ruined my life. So I ruined theirs.

But suddenly my family was upset when I destroyed the dinners—um, I mean chicken invaders. Maybe because my lieutenant thought that they were chew toys and was playing with them when the kids went outside. Suddenly I was a hated dog. All of the girls and younger kids began sobbing and Adam hit me in the head with a shovel. I didn’t understand.

Then they began building large fortified areas for their chickie-friends, Fort McChicken & Fort McNugget. No amount of chewing or digging can wipe the silly cheeps from their faces. We keep getting more! Soon we will be overrun by chickens!

So I have decided to start a campaign to rid the world from these feathery pests. I think all dogs will agree with me that chickens are the root of all evil, and I hope they will join me in demilitarizing the forts that keep those little sneaks safe. Everyone knows that what we need to do is to be at peace with all creatures. We should pull down the walls, join paws with the dinners…chickens, and then join for a banquet.

Celebration. Sorry.

Are you with me?

Irrational Geographic: Big Hogs Initiative

A beautiful specimen of wild boar.

A beautiful specimen of wild boar.

With a healthy population and determined outlook on life, the wild boar population of Texas is doing its part to control the greedy agricultural capitalists set on destroying Nature’s balance, exploiting poor consumers, and killing faultless farm animals.

“They are really just misunderstood animals. They’re nothing but beautiful—it’s entirely unfounded to not … to not love them,” said Raddi Cahl, a dedicated environmentalist, in the hospital after attempting to hug a member of a rambunctious Texas hog herd.

The hogs incur millions, almost billions of dollars of damage every year, a step forward considering that Texas is one of “those” states that abuses its animal population to prevent mere trivialities like starvation and poverty.

Infinitely majestic and sporting patchy hair, diseased skin, and excessive filth, the wild hog population, the experts agree, does not deserve to be driven out or harmed in any way just because it prevents selfish farmers and land-owners from utilizing their capitalist-geared property for money-making purposes. Lobbyists have already presented the case to Washington, and say that they are making progress.

“They aren’t a bit willing to preserve this environmental marvel, and they’ll take to shooting these poor darling creatures from helicopters before they’ll tolerate dead livestock, spoiled crops, ransacked fields, and ruined careers and livelihoods. Altogether selfish, short-sighted, and just not fitting,” said William Grey, an upstate New York resident who said he had a farmer in his family tree “at some point in the past fifteen generations.”

“I understand exactly how these farmers feel. I have farming in my blood, I mean, at least as close as just fifteen generations ago,” Grey added, “And this is wholly inappropriate and just … selfish and capitalist.”

Irrational Geographic has launched a new initiative to protect these incredible creatures: the Big Hogs Initiative. You can help defeat these selfish farmers and score a victory for these special hogs—all seven million of them—and all the while protect the environment. All you’ll have to do is pay us money: it’s that simple.

World Domination Update

Hodgkins, emperor of everything he can seeGreetings, Human World.

Lately I have been receiving unbelievable quantities of mail and email, almost all of which address the same question: how do we go about preventing canine world domination?

The most perspicuous solution is to support me in my bid to take over all of the world’s governments. That way dogs won’t have a shot at getting any of the various disorganized nations that are up for grabs this year.

However, I believe this is largely unnecessary. I will explain why.

Although most species aspire to world domination, and I do believe that a number of them (and even individual members of said species) could conquer the planet and later the universe, dogs are not among that number.

  • First of all, a great portion of humanity is entirely dissatisfied with canine hygienic habits. While there are mislead creatures in this world who believe that dogs are clean enough to justify indoor living, the more sane among us must disagree. When selecting a dictator, humans usually rally behind some sort of creature who appears to be dynamic, witty, intellectual, and cleanly. Dogs are none of the above and in no way can appear to have positive attributes. Humans are harder to herd than cats, unless you have a cat to lead them. (By the way, guys, write down that quote. It is infinitely inspirational.)

 

  • I must also point out that most dogs lack critical thinking skills. Insanity is doing the same thing many times and expecting different results; the human that coined this saying was clearly observing a dog when the idea popped into his brassbound human brain. Dogs would not be able to learn from any mistakes or progress beyond stage one. (For those of you who are inexperienced in world domination, stage one is when you start a cult-like following on social media.)
  • Finally, dogs are a subservient species. They listen too much. They care what others think. There is no way they can ever conquer the human race if they intend to do everything that “master” says.
  • Lastly, dogs have no tact whatsoever. What would they do if the idea did come to them that they should attempt world domination? They would start too soon, the effort would quickly descend into pandemonium, and all of this because instead of employing stealth, they bark at anything that moves.

Thus, although your concerns were thoughtful, I can’t believe you are really that stupid—pshaw, to think that dogs could overtake the earth. Besides, if you’re really concerned about “canine world domination,” you would immediately cease fraternizing with the dogs. And for now, good riddance, humans.

I love me too,

Hodgkins

Supreme Emperor of the Universe;

Chief Executive Lizard-Slayer at Lizard Warrior Service;

Recipient of the Snowbell Peace Prize;

Coolest Monarch of the Century (Irrational Geographic);

Expert Tree-Conqueror;

And Your Humble Master.

 

Chosen Ones: The Shepherd’s Story

Caro was rather disturbed by the outburst, and backed up a step. The young man looked up and the fire that was in his eyes died as soon as it had come. “You don’t believe me. Is it not enough that I know who you are, your name? Caro is your name, son of kings. We waited for you, prayed for you, suffered for you. You do not believe me!?!” He stood, his dark brown eyes showing only anguish.

Caro had never seen madness and did not know what it was quite like, but he knew that it meant that people did queer things. “Still, he knew my name…” He thought, then corrected himself. “Maybe many know my name. If I was a prince, anyone would know it.” He was not sure who to trust in his search for his sister’s friends.

The young man waited, but Caro said nothing. All hope had left his face, and he turned away. “Well, then, I suppose that this veil of lies is still too thick for anyone to really believe me. If you decide to talk to me again, I will be in the mountains. Call for me at the home of Gino, the shepherd.”

Caro was struck with a sudden thought. “Gino! The house of Gino?” The boy turned on his heel, annoyed. “Aye! What does that have to do with anything? My name is Gino.” Caro’s face lit up. “Gino, called the wise?” Gino (for that was who it was) nodded. “I haven’t been called that in a long time, though.” He turned his tongue, as if he was trying to remember who had called him that. “The only person who had called me that is…”

“Then I can trust you. My sister mentioned you before she…well, she died. Anyway, I was sent to find you.” Gino’s face changed immediately. “Nenya? Yes! Finally! I was wondering how long it would take before you would get it.” Caro shrugged. “I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you. I’ve only known two people in my whole life, and they were both girls.”

Gino asked if Caro had a place to stay, and when he said that he didn’t, Gino took him home. It was only a simple hut built onto the mountainside, but it was sound. Gino had built it by himself, and though he was missing a few fingers, he had built it well.

Caro told his story to the sympathetic shepherd, then asked what had happened while he was in the core. Gino’s dark eyes glistened, and he stared into the small fire in the fireplace. “I’m not sure when to start. After she had you safely tucked away, Nya started brutally stamping out all resistance to her dictatorship. Many were killed or imprisoned. I was twelve, Opal was only three.

‘But Nya even sent guards to arrest us, only children, and to question us about what we knew of you and the princess. Opal had told me of it, and I knew what had happened, but we refused to tell. So they locked us up. Opal eventually went blind from the unhealthy atmosphere, and finally we were released.”

Caro looked quickly at Gino. “Blind?” “Aye. She can’t see anything but bright light, but she gets around all right by herself.” Gino didn’t notice his companion’s uneasiness. “But we watched out for each other, in a manner of speaking. She lives up in the mountains, where Nya doesn’t dare to send soldiers, but sometimes she comes down to earn money by mending nets and to buy food. We make it through.”

The door opened suddenly, as a large black-and-white dog rushed in, barking furiously.

Promise

“Down, Promise!” Gino shouted, trying to calm it down. The dog spun in circles, pointed, and continued to bark at the top of his lungs. Gino looked out the window. “Soldiers? But how did they find us? Oh, no. We were followed.” Gino ran out one of the doors, and the dog followed. Caro waited.

In a few minutes, Gino returned. “It’s not safe here anymore, I’m afraid.” He panted, grabbing some things and packing them in a bag. “Promise will round up the sheep, we’ll have to sell them, of course. Come with me out the back door. No, bar this one first, See? Good! That will give them something to play with. Now hurry, sir!”

The two young men made it out the back way as the front door began to shudder from blows. Promise, like a good sheepdog, had herded the sheep away up the mountainside, and the boys followed. “Has this happened before?” Caro shouted. “Aye. I’ve rebuilt my house in different places, but they always seem to find it.” “What now?” “We’ll go up to Opal. We need her anyway.”

Caro looked back. The soldiers were running this way and that trying to find Gino. One of them carried a torch and a can of something. “They’ll burn the house.” Gino called, matter-of-factly. Caro looked back again. Gino was right: columns of flame were beginning to lick around the corners of the house.

The outside world was not like he had imagined it at all.

Click Here to read the previous installments of Chosen Ones.

 

World’s Best Swedish Meatballs

Here’s our favorite recipe for Swedish meatballs. (Yes, like the Swedish chef.)

The Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show

The Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show

Start off by chopping up one large onion and sautéing it in butter.

Meanwhile,  get one half cup of breadcrumbs (or for a gluten-free option, use gluten-free oats) and put in your Bosch Mixer with the cookie paddles attachment. Otherwise, you could put the breadcrumbs or oats in a big mixing bowl.

Next, put 2 ½ lbs of beef in Bosch Mixer or mixing bowl.

Note: do not check Facebook or email because your onions will burn.

Add ¼ cup of water, milk, or stock to mixture.

Add two eggs to the mixture. I go ahead and start mixing it with my Bosch at this point, but the other option is to use a hand-held mixer or merely knead with your hands.

Stir the sautéd onions into the meat, and then these ingredients as well:
3 Tbs chopped parsley
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
¼ tsp red pepper
After that, shape meat into 1 ½ inch balls and cook in melted butter.

When all the meatballs are cooked I add about two cups of beef stock to the meatballs. You could thicken this and make a gravy.

You can also make it ahead of time and put the meatballs in the crockpot (after you’ve cooked them, that is).

You could serve it over cauliflower rice, rice, or squash noodles.

This recipe was inspired by the Joy of Cooking Cookbook and the Muppets

*A Bosch Mixer is a power tool for the kitchen. It is an awesome addition to any kitchen.

Chasing Squirrels 101

See how cute I am? Obviously every word that I say must be taken as truth.

See how cute I am? Obviously every word that I say must be taken as truth.

Being a dachshund, it is only natural that I should chase small game such as lizards, crane flies, frogs, possums, and squirrels. People who know what my breed’s name, dachshund, means (badger hound) might be tempted to think that we are interested only in hunting badgers. Totally wrong of them to think that.  I, being an extremely adorable puppy of about eight inches in height, have never even seen a badger before. Nor do I care to meet one. I digress.

One of the best things in a dog’s life is the joy of chasing squirrels. I will now give you more information about squirrel chasing than you will ever need to know.

When chasing squirrels:

  • Always run the same direction, regardless of the direction the squirrel is running. It is very important to show constancy in this matter.
  • Bark at the squirrel as loud as you possibly can. It is important to let them know that you are in an attempt* to devour them messily.
  • Consider the size of the squirrel that you are chasing. This is important. You’ll need to know how fast you’re going to have to run. It just doesn’t work to out run the squirrel that you are chasing. You’ll also need to make sure that you don’t lag too far behind. (These little varmints can scamper away in the twinkling of an eye. They have the advantage of being able to climb trees and fences.)
  • Decide if you want to paralyze the squirrel with fear and bring it under your human’s bed and kill it there, or , if you just want to maim it,  play with it for a while then let it be miserable for the rest of its life, or if you just want to devour it right there.
  • Entering your house with a squirmy squirrel might cause your human to scream at you and tell you to take your hard-earned squirrel back outside. (I have done similar things before, and to tell the truth, I think that my human was just jealous of my being able to catch something that they could not catch)
  • For the people that have in-ground swimming pools, it is always hilarious to watch a squirrel take a wrong step and fall in the water. It is best if this happens when the pool water is below seventy degrees. This way, the squirrel feels extremely cold and wet, and nobody usually swims in unheated pools in November, December, January, February, and March, that I know of, except for one of my stranger-than-usual humans.

These are some of the best hints and tips for squirrel chasing. Use them when you chase squirrels yourself. 

* Personally, I have never caught a squirrel before, but I am still an expert, because I am a dachshund.

Marcus Agrippa and John Valastro

pantheon

There’s no difference between Marcus Agrippa using slave labor to build the Pantheon and Lumberton officials forcing citizens to pay for a recreation center — except, no offense, Agrippa’s building looks way better.

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt,” said John Adams, our nation’s second President.

Wallowing in profligate excess, the federal government has done its part to shackle the next dozen generations of Americans to elephantine financial obligations accumulated from decades, almost a century, of politically-motivated interventionist detritus (i.e., Wall Street bailout, the stimulus façade, poverty reduction programs, social security).

Government officials are quick to approve pork-barrel projects—for instance, a recreation of the Pantheon in Lumberton, the sidewalk to nowhere in Kountze, and the Ford Park debacle in Beaumont, all of which are taxpayer-funded, multi-million dollar whims. Legislative bodies from Congress to City Council are hasty to approve lavish budgets that rob Peter to pay Paul, and as the saying goes, these demagogues can count on Paul’s vote.

Put simply, government, no matter how local, has no authority to construct domes, theaters, towers, or contrived projects like bike trails in rural Southeast Texas, because as John Locke explained and as Thomas Jefferson believed, life, liberty, and property are intertwined rights. When one of them is absent or curtailed, the others are also threatened.

Property rights are in mangled condition, considering the federal government is run by Keynesians—but this means more than just citizens are losing money.

Earning money takes time: when money is taken, time itself has been stolen. Property is an extension of the earner’s being. When government decides to take such-and-such percentage (all taxes added up, this could mean a nearly 75% rate), a citizen has lost jurisdiction of days, weeks, months of his time—and if anything, this is an encroachment on the right to life and liberty itself.

Using tax dollars to construct a Performing Theater Arts Center is no different from Marcus Agrippa using slave labor to build the Pantheon—a legal theft of a man or woman’s time.

Municipal, county, and federal governments tossing around a million here and a billion there seems normal these days, but government is entirely incapable of generating revenue on its own. The money so carelessly squandered on special interest grants and insane building projects is not “government” money in any capacity, but private sector funds.

“Government funds” seems official, authoritative, and legitimate, but in reality, “government funds” are nothing more than the product of what French economist Frederic Bastiat called legal plunder: the legally required and protected taking—theft, plunder, pilfering, purloining—of a man’s time and money.

The Best Pancakes

This recipe is a cinch to make, takes little time, makes pretty much no mess, and on top of that is low-carb and gluten-free. They taste, by far, better than all the gluten-free pancake mixes, flours, and recipes that we have tried as of yet.

 

Ingredients:

  • Old-fashioned oats
  • Cottage cheese (low-fat or otherwise)
  • Egg whites (for fluffiness, but you can use the entire egg and it still comes out fine)
  • Baking powder
  • Sweetener
  • Vanilla
  1. Put 1 cup oats into a blender and blend until oats turn to powder.
  2. Turn off blender and add 1 cup of egg whites (or just 1 cup of entire eggs) and 1 cup cottage cheese.
  3. Add 2 tsp. baking powder, 2-3 tsp. sweetener (sugar, Stevia, Truvia), and dash      of vanilla (optional). Blend well.
  4. Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick frying pan to medium temperature. Spray the pan or skillet with a tiny bit of oil spray, or moisten it with the slightest amount of butter.
  5. Ladle mix onto skillet or pan in desired pancake-sized shapes.
  6. Once the bottom of the pancakes are golden browned and tops have bubbles, flip them and cook until done.

 

Recipe credit: adapted from Serene Allison’s and Pearl Barrett’s Trim Healthy Mama

Recreating the Pantheon

Lumberton officials want to recreate the Pantheon, but they're so terrible at math that they've started something they cannot possibly finish (without punishing the taxpayers, that is).

Lumberton officials want to recreate the Pantheon, but they’re so terrible at math that they’ve started something they cannot possibly finish (without punishing the taxpayers, that is).

“I call it the Pantheon,” said one Lumberton middle school student, “Its function and design are close enough to the original’s looks and purpose to justify the nomenclature.”

While passers-by and students make quips about the Performing Arts Center and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Dome near Lumberton High School, city officials are faced with a puzzling problem: how to bail out the school’s pet project and extract more funds from financially hard-pressed taxpayers, who are struggling under the burden of exorbitant federal taxes, excessive state taxes, and skyrocketing local rates.

Members of the school board apparently stretched the boundaries of mathematics whenever they accepted the offer of a $3 million grant from FEMA, knowing full well that the project had insufficient funds to even get off the ground.

The Beaumont Enterprise quotes Lumberton ISD Superintendent John Valastro as saying, “When people say, ‘Why did you start something you can’t finish,’ well, I can give you three million reasons.” Taxpayers are fairly sure that none of those three million reasons include private property, future generations, or fiscal responsibility.

The school board decided to proceed without heeding common sense or crunching numbers, and Valastro reasoned that “$3 million from a grant is something we weren’t going to get again.”

While the $3 million covers around 75% (or less) of the dome, it covers only a measly 33% of the total project. Previously city officials and the school board assured citizens that funds were plentiful enough to cover the project.

Lumberton’s botched attempt at recreating the Pantheon is a prime example of first-stage thinking, a theory only thought out to the immediate future; furthermore, it is a pitiful theory relying on ideal conditions and the total absence of setbacks.

The grossly inaccurate initial estimates for the dome were either altered to ease public opinion or were entirely wrong in the first place, and perhaps a combination of both, since it should not be put past the city officials who are proud of the project (and even claim full responsibility for its existence) to downplay the costs of the dome.

If anything, the situation is ironic since it has finally been proven that not even the School Board can understand math.

 

Why Competition Isn’t Wasteful

Occasionally it seems that a free market would be a wasteful drain on resources: humankind, bearing the tendency to think things through only to stage one of a plan and never beyond, have a penchant to consider only the immediate—rather than long-term—aspects of economies. This is one reason why redistribution and interventionism are often love at first sight for confused high school students or economic majors; it is also the reason that competition is sometimes understood to be a harsh, zero-sum game where only the meanest “capitalist pigs” can end up on top.

Competition: an aspect of human nature and a sure-fire way for the consumer to score a victory.

Competition: an aspect of human nature and a sure-fire way for the consumer to score a victory.

Considering that all economic theories are hypothetical (Even when they are attempted in the real world, they can never be perfected, thus they remain hypothetical.) it can be difficult to pinpoint potential problems in theories.

Laissez-faire economics have proved enormously successful for all participating economies; socialism, on the other hand, has been a dismal failure.

The reason for success on one hand and failure on the other hinges almost completely on human nature, the mysterious accumulation of inborn traits that must be kept in mind when dealing with other people.

Whenever athletes compete in a race, whenever an artist enters a contest, whenever a singer performs in a talent competition, it is an example of human nature: humans like to try, and the reason they enjoy trying is because the success that can be obtained through trying is so sweet.

In communism, state-run enterprises are the only existing commerce, meaning that government jobs are, by the law, the only ones with the right to exist—which means that there is no reason to worry that another, better, firm would make it necessary for the state-run enterprise to innovate or improve.

The distinction between “success” and “failure” is blurred in socialism; there is no reward for excellence, there is no consequence for failure. When there is no reason to try, human nature—and, in fact, common sense—mandates that no one make an initial attempt. Everything is one massive, assimilated lump where individuals cannot matter and where success is impossible.

In a free market, however, success is very much attainable: excellence is always rewarded, and poor, shoddy work is discouraged economically, with no laws or policies needed to maintain an ever-rising standard.

This is because of competition.

Competition is the reason that Soviets starved while even the poorest Americans could eke out a living.

Competition is not wasteful just because it forces a higher standard. Greed actually forces competitors to become more efficient, create ever-better products, and develop new methods. It is all part of the battle to keep customers satisfied, and in socialism, this race does not exist because the customers are guaranteed: consumers are nuisances in the eyes of a monopoly.

Competition increases living standards and efficiency, and by no means is it wasteful. Whenever corporate competitors are in a battle for life itself, they are fighting over you, the consumer; and unless, like in socialism, they have the state to force you to buy from them, then it’s up to you to decide—and when you decide, prices and quality will affect your decision. The most efficient business will win (unless one or the other resorts to cronyism, the most popular option in modern America).

With the opponents constantly forcing higher standards on one another, it’s easy to see why competition, a uniquely human characteristic and a very important part of laissez-faire success, is neither wasteful nor a drain on resources.

For the Cats: Tips on the Art of Gift-Giving

If you do not think I'm credible, see how awesome I am in the picture? Yeah. That's why you should listen.

If you do not think I’m credible, see how awesome I am in the picture? Yeah. That’s why you should listen.

To all the cats out there,

I’m baaaack.

So, since you have all proved your incompetence, and since I am a fountain of endless practical knowledge, I’d like to share tips on the art of gift-giving.

  • All humans will appreciate a leaf or cardboard box. These are classic gifts that just can’t go wrong. Perfect for the human that has everything.
  • When you need to say “I’m sorry,” nothing says it better than a headless squirrel carcass. Nothing. I recommend making a dramatic entrance, running towards them, and depositing it at your human’s feet.
  • If your human looks bored, offer them a live lizard to play with. This usually motivates some sort of action on their part, and occasionally they will run around the house screaming (depending on your human). For sure this will cheer up your human, and as a plus, they may even be so happy that they’ll let you outside for an extra-long outing.
  • Sharing a tasty treat with your human is a great way to show them that you care about them. A novel way to do this is to bring them breakfast in bed. Personally, I recommend bringing them some sort of rare and colorful songbird. (The kind in cages are obviously the most prestigious.) I’ve even known humans to cry, because they are so touched by the gift.

As Supreme Emperor of the Universe, I have a great deal of experience in handling the human species. Trust my expertise.

I love me too,

Hodgkins,

Supreme Emperor of the Universe;

Chief Executive Lizard-Slayer at Lizard Warrior Service;

Recipient of the Snowbell Peace Prize;

Coolest Monarch of the Century (Irrational Geographic);

Expert Tree-Conqueror;

Your Humble Master;

And A.K.A. alpha-cat.

Chosen Ones: He is insane

Caro wandered about the streets all night, trying to make sense of the conflict inside of him. Everything that he had known was a lie, and the truth seemed so unreal. Could the tender servant that he had known for so many years really be his own sister? And was she really dead?

He finally came to his senses with a new feeling of resolve. “I don’t know much of anything here, but this one thing. Nya is my enemy. I saw her hurt my Julietta a few times, and then she killed her. Julietta must have been telling the truth, then, but I never thought…” he shook his head “…I must find Gino, whoever that is. Gino the wise.”

He returned to his boat at daybreak, and saw a group of girls mending fishing nets on the rocks. “Excuse me!” He called to them, and they looked up. “Have you heard of a man named Gino?” One of them wrinkled up her nose. “Never heard the name.” She giggled. “Are you sure it’s right?” Caro nodded. “Sorry! I don’t know anyone by that name.” The others nodded and went back to talking amongst themselves and mending nets.

Caro asked many people on the shore that day, but no one knew anyone named Gino. They all remarked that it was an odd name, but didn’t volunteer to help him. He was about to leave when he heard a soft voice. “Who did you ask for?”

OpalCaro looked back and saw a girl dressed in a grey dress and a pale blue cloak sitting on a rock, mending a net. Her eyes were sightless and blank when she turned them on him, and he knew that she was blind.

“I need to find someone named Gino.” He explained again. Her eyes widened. “Really? Why do you seek Gino?” He sighed and wondered what to say. “I was sent to find him.” The girl reflected a moment.

“You will find him in the town. By the warehouse, I would believe. He usually is around there at this time.” Caro thanked her. “Thank you. I didn’t know where to find him. Trust me, it is important.” The blind girl waved farewell and sat still for a while, as if she was watching him, though that was impossible.

Caro made his way into town and found a large warehouse district towards the south side of town. There was a large crowd of people going in and out of the building, and a few of them had stopped to listen to a man who seemed excited. He was about to get closer when a man stopped him.

“You’re not from around here, are you?” He asked. Caro shook his head. “Well, avoid that one. He’s out of his mind. They’ve had to lock him up a few times because he is such a nuisance.” Caro thanked him and moved up to hear what the youth was saying.

He was in his late twenties, with thick, curly black hair and dark skin. His clothes were simple, and he truly looked like a peasant. But he spoke excitedly, and attracted a crowd. “How long? How long will we allow this injustice? We must get away! There are spies here, even here! And look at what has happened. This child is forced to beg on the streets because his parents have been killed. And this girl wears the shameful badge of slavery! Why do we allow this?”

Gino

The slave girl ran away, cheeks burning: he was right. Caro looked at the young man. Something about him seemed different than the other people. “Maybe it is madness.” He thought. The man who had first warned Caro shouted “Go back to your flock, shepherd, before the guards come! They have already had to lock you up to keep you from making a nuisance of yourself. Do you want to lose more than fingers?”

Caro started, and stared at the youth’s right hand, which was missing its first two fingers. But the speaker didn’t blink. “I am willing to lose more, if someone hears.” He turned, picked up his staff and a sack, and walked away. Caro hesitated. “Should I stay and wait for him? Maybe I should ask someone here.”

He turned to leave, but had not gone a few blocks before he found himself face to face with the crazy boy. His eyes were kindled with…something, maybe madness, but it looked more like joy. He looked into Caro’s eyes, and clasped his hand. Then he knelt, and to Caro’s surprise, cried “My prince, my lord!”

 For previous posts about Agur, Click Here.

Attention, Human World

Me, singing an anthem of allegiance to myself.

Me, singing an anthem of allegiance to myself.

Hello, human world.

I am a cat—and of course you think you know what that means. You think that I like to play with balls of yarn, drink milk, catch mice, and that dogs chase me.

None of the above.

I am Hodgkins, Supreme Emperor of the Universe—or, well, at least that’s what I deserve to be. There is nothing in this world that I don’t have the right to use, destroy, or give away.

There are bogus scientists in my universe who claim that the “earth revolves around the sun” and other such garbage. No, the sun revolves around the earth—and the earth revolves around me. I am the culmination of thousands of years of history: I’m the reason you’re all here—obviously because I’m a cat, and because I’m the best cat.

And my purpose?

  • To catch the red dot that has somehow always managed to elude me—for if I am more brilliant than Sherlock Holmes (well, that’s a stupid “what if” because clearly I am) then this dot is more brilliant than Moriarty. Like, five hundred times smarter than Moriarty. But I digress.
  • To defeat the accursed breed of lizards threatening to take over my planet. These fire-breathing, two-inch long monsters can turn your couch to toast in two seconds flat, and if they succeed in overtaking your house, they will use it as headquarters—and then transform it into a missile launching pad. Yes, Western civilization hinges on you controlling these vile reptiles.
  • But more than anything else, since I’m the culmination of history, and since I’m Supreme Emperor, I deserve the authoritative recognition of such. Either by hook, crook, claw, or social media, I will take over “your” world.

Hopefully you understand me now, humans. Perhaps your eyes have been opened.

I love me too,

Hodgkins Clark, Your Humble Master

P.S. I highly recommend that you join H.O.D.G.K.I.N.S. (Hodgkins Obedible Dictatorial Glitterati Klatch and Imminent National Synod). When I say “highly recommend” I really mean join or else you’ll be cleaning the litter box as soon as I’m boss around here.

St. Patrick’s Day: part 2

Ok, so we know now that St. Patrick’s day is a celebration of a really awesome man, but where does all the other stuff come from, and is it really wrong? No, many of the things that we have as rituals on Saint Patrick’s day are simply symbols of Ireland, and are completely harmless.

We wear green because it reminds us of the green of Ireland, and we hear about leprechauns, fairies and giants; a major part of Ireland’s heritage. We do many things that are simply part of remembering Ireland, and that’s great. However, even though I have dug in pretty far and I’m starting to make enemies, I need to object to one symbol of the 17th.

I personally do not agree with ‘luck’ or with the significance of four-leaf-clovers. Luck, or fortune, is not real. The Bible tells us that God controls chance in Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

Four-leaf-clovers are symbols of St. Patrick’s day, but they really have nothing to do with it. They are considered “lucky” but are actually upstaged by their smaller cousins, the shamrocks. After all, church tradition tells us that Patrick used a shamrock to teach pagan Irish about the tri-unity of the trinity. Its three leaves stood for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I love green, and I love legends. But I don’t like luck. The idea that an impersonal, all-powerful force decides the skills and abilities of people just seems…well…wrong. After all, we believe in a PERSONAL, all-powerful GOD. And clover is thought to convey luck. So unfortunately, I don’t like this symbol either.

So after these two posts, I leave you with a decision. Will you continue to celebrate the way you always have, or do these posts stir you to think about what you believe? I hope they do. You may disagree, but I believe that everything that we do has a purpose. We are called to take every thought captive. What about our actions? Aren’t they important too?

For the kids: I know that studying is no fun, but I challenge you to dig into the traditions and holidays that you celebrate, and to find out what you’re really believing. Some holidays had good beginnings and have been commercialized, like Patrick’s day, and others started out evil and were watered down, like Halloween.

What are you celebrating?

The Unfortunate Case of Carl the Shoemaker

Meet Carl. He’s a shoemaker in the small country called Hypothetical. If you have read this, you’ve already become acquainted with him.

The country of Hypothetical has strict protectionist policies that shield national shoe manufacturers, including Carl, from foreign competition—particularly because foreigners have a comparative advantage in that field. The cheap foreign imports might strike a death blow to Hypothetical’s shoe-making industry; more than likely it will put Carl out of business.

Unfortunately, shoes are pretty expensive in Hypothetical. Around a tenth of the population walks around barefoot because of it. Another 89.5% of Hypothetical’s residents fare quite nicely, although they say they spend more on shoes than they wish.

When Hypothetical’s parliament decides to reduce import tariffs and restrictions, suddenly cheap shoes begin flooding the country. Some of them are low-quality, mass-produced nightmares that most would never purchase, but others are of comparable or higher quality than Hypothetical’s own products. Unfortunately for Carl, all of these shoes, even those of the highest quality, are cheaper than his own.

Soon only Carl’s most faithful customers are coming to his shop, now considered to have obsolete, over-priced shoes. Most consumers now buy from Nike, Carl’s main competitor.

Carl is forced to close shop.

This is a huge blow to Carl (and to his most faithful customers, who prefer his products). His friends, acquaintances, and anyone who hears his story can’t help but feel sorry for him: however, none of these folks are willing to stop buying from Nike. They would rather have shoes for the whole family than go back to scrimping for months to buy a set of boots from their friend Carl. They can’t go back to buying from him.

Carl the Shoemaker vs. Nike

Carl the Shoemaker vs. Nike

Carl’s means of income has basically collapsed before his eyes. His options are not very lucrative compared to his previous job: he narrows it down to either working for Nike or learning a different trade. Obviously this is a huge blow to him and his family.

Freeing up international trade has outstanding and worthwhile positive effects—as mentioned here—but it also has painful effects for some manufacturers. Overall, trade liberalization is beneficial; but as with every decision, there are some negative side effects. Oftentimes libertarians and capitalists downplay the fact that some will suffer when such trade decisions are made and that there are detrimental situations that can result from freeing up international trade.

In the end, the consumers and the 10% of Hypothetical’s citizens who had previously gone barefoot benefit, Carl is eventually scraping along in some other area, and the economy as a whole is on the rise.

Parliament, was it worth it?

Ask Carl and his fellow manufacturers, and for them, it’s no fun. In conclusion, the free market is not perfect nor is it painless. Sometimes positive reforms are agonizing to portions of the economy: cutting government spending has a detrimental effect on IRS agents—but that doesn’t mean cuts are unfounded or unnecessary, nor does it mean that the entire economy will hurt for it. Free market truths like competition, supply and demand, and pricing are other examples of occasionally non-enjoyable aspects of capitalism that are hurtful to some and beneficial to the rest—not ideal, but better than anything else available to mankind. Think of what happened to the United States piano-making industry, the horse-drawn buggy industry, the record industry, and even cassette tape manufacturers: innovation, improvement, and a better world at the expense of buggy-builders.

Carl deserves our sympathy. He’s an example of the effects of real-life economics, which can be unpleasant business. But as for the newly-shoed poor and the liberated consumers, they’re pretty ecstatic about Nike. You should be, too.

Non-Essential Information: State-Mandated Liberal Arts

Van Gogh or George Mitchell?

Van Gogh or George Mitchell?

“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us,” Martin Luther said.

Indeed, music is a God-given gift for which some among us are specially suited and others are not. Liberal arts are comparable to educational dessert—wonderful but not necessary; living on dessert alone is detrimental to health, just as studying solely art would cripple a nation’s economy, lifestyle, and ironically, its culture.

While music is an educational benefit and aids in spatial, logical, and mathematical thinking processes, and while it can be a beneficial pastime, it can also be a burden on education when it is made a mandatory high school course. Public education currently forces students into studying subjects like pottery, Gregorian chants, impressionist paintings, sculpting materials, and the impact of Pythagorean tonal studies.

Education is training for the remainder of one’s life, and primarily one’s career. Liberal arts may or may not fit into that purpose (the student or parent is the one who decides what the purpose is, and later if “the arts” fit into the purpose) and if a student is unsure of goals, music may be an excellent addition to his or her education—providing for a well-rounded, systematic learning.

However, if a student is not set on getting a liberal arts degree or becoming an artist, musical education could be a massive waste of time, not to mention that in most states, music appreciation and other liberal arts classes are mandatory in high school.

Many students enjoy theater, art classes, and music courses—but just as many struggle, dragging down a grade average with trivialities and mandatory exercises in futility that sometimes have nothing to do with their future.

This isn’t necessarily the bad part. Grade averages are not the measure of a good education, nor is struggling an indication that the course is a poor subject.

Education is not merely about “career” training or attempting to predict what a student should or should not learn for the sake of efficiency—after all, even in Star Trek efficiency-obsessed Spock plays an instrument, even when it offers no benefit for his position as First Officer on the Enterprise. Education is about acquiring knowledge applicable, useful, helpful, or enjoyable in real life.

For many students, school is rarely enjoyable: this is to be expected. Arithmetic, writing, history, and science may be less than entertainment, but usually have much influence on a student’s success in later life. At least in this era, math at a pre-algebra level in particular is necessary (to a degree) in most occupations.

The same cannot be said of liberal arts, subjects that are generally for enjoyment only. But what if you don’t enjoy Van Gogh, Mendelssohn, or liberal arts in general?

Music is wonderful; theater is stunning; art is intriguing; poetry is lovely. While liberal arts are marvelous—and many students intend to make a career of them—many students do not. In a free nation, government cannot dictate requirements for education nor can the state mandate how students should spend their time.

Requiring an art class is much like requiring that students play video games or read comic books: perhaps enjoyable to some and beautiful to others. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but math is math. While tastes in music, paintings, video games, and comic books vary, arithmetic is a constant: math is a skill that some need more than others, but that all need nonetheless.

The millions of jobs in the world today are all mostly necessary, and almost all of them are beneficial; why are liberal arts courses elevated and made mandatory over the thousands of other important skills?

For one, public education is vulnerable to lobbying, and liberal arts lobbyists have well-lined wallets. For two, knowledge of liberal arts is the mark of a well-educated individual. Art galleries and concerts are showy indicators—sometimes false positives—of academic success.

When the state forces all 9th grade students to display a sign of high education, it can draw away from some students’ basic education.

Principles of the specialization of labor also apply to learning. When a student intends to specialize, or already specializes, in a particular skill or activity, spending time on what will likely be irrelevant subjects, like three years of “physical ed” or two years of ceramics, (the subjects in themselves are not bad) becomes a waste of time.

Currently public education requires numerous credits and courses in liberal arts, a gross violation of individual liberty. [Note: the entire public education system is currently set to discourage individual liberty.] The problem is neither in requirements in general or liberal arts: both are fine.

The problem lies with requiring liberal arts, which is borderline insane; mandating that all students take an art course fits in this category. Hours of homework accumulate to form a pill too large to swallow, making it impossible for students to properly prepare for their life goals or work toward thorough learning in a particular area. Sometimes it makes it impossible for them to stay afloat academically, as they become discouraged and give up hope.

State Boards of Education would do well to make liberal arts—subjects like music education, art classes, or theater—optional and allow students more freedom in choosing how they spend high school, since more often than not this is a direct reflection of what and how students will do in college and later in their career. A potential engineering major would likely rather study physics than the polyphonic nature of early Baroque music.

As William Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education, put it,  “The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”

Mandating culture may mold the next generation into halfway-decent liberal art buffs, but it can and will take a toll on math, science, and technical fields: as it is, students fight to keep up with art history class and a host of other unnecessary politically correct rubbish while scraping by with the bare minimum in chemistry.

Liberal arts are not essential, as Bennett said, but they do unlock aspects of education previously left untouched. The keys should be handed to students and parents, and if they want to venture into liberal arts, allow them—but do not force them.

St. Patrick’s Day

Greetings from wonderful New Bern, North Carolina! It’s St. Patrick’s day, and as my family was eating breakfast, the topic of this holiday came up.

My little siblings had some misconceptions about the holiday, and I don’t blame them. Day after day, we are flung advertisements for green clothes, hats, chocolate coins. We are told stories of leprechauns and giants, and how luck is king on this day. For adults, this day is also for drinking and doing other worthless things, all because of a saint.

St. Patrick did not wear green, was not from Ireland and most likely never owned pots of gold. When he was a boy, he was kidnapped from his home in the relatively safe Roman-Briton outpost in the British Isles and taken to Ireland to work as a slave.

After years, he escaped and ran back to his home, where he became a leader in the church. He preached to his people, but one night received “The Macedonian Call” and was told to come to Ireland and preach the good news of the gospel to a dark world. Though it probably was a hard decision, Patrick left his comfort zone and went to the dark land of Ireland.

The Celts were pretty immoral people, who made women fight, believed in spirits, and made sacrifices to…just about anything. They worshipped what they saw, and then, satisfied that they were safe, did more terrible things. Like kidnapping kids.

Like Jonah, Patrick could have said “No!” and ran off, but instead he followed God’s call and preached to the dark world around him. It seemed hopeless, but the light of the gospel shone through the darkness, and Patrick’s work was instrumental to bringing Ireland to Christ.

That is why he got a holiday: he followed the call of the Lord, and the Catholic Church wanted to remember and honor him. Though I disagree with the Catholic Church on some things, I respect their commitment to those who did great things for God, and their desire to remember them.

So this St. Patrick’s day, remember who he was: a person just like you and me, who followed the call of God and did great things. Don’t think about luck and magic, but about the God who controls everything and cares about us enough to send us prophets to alert us of our sin.

Chosen Ones: Farewell to the Core

NyaNya’s interview with Caro did not go well. Though he said nothing about the sudden revelation, Nya guessed that he knew more than he should, and she grew irritable. She sent him away and called for Julietta to come to her.

Standing face to face, it was amazing to see the difference between the two women. Nya was tall, with striking black hair and piercing eyes that glittered with malice, and a mouth that was often twisted into a smirk. Julietta was slight, with hair the color of gold, and quiet silver eyes that studied everything.

 

“I need to know what you have been telling my ward, girl.” Nya commanded, looking down at her. Julietta held her peace. “I taught him almost everything I could. I know nothing of warfare or swordplay, and little of advanced algebra, but I did teach him the language, history, and geography, of our country.” “History? What kind of history?” “The lines of the kings of Agur, and how we were given the land, and so on.”

Nya was angry. “And I suppose you told him that I was a rebel who overthrew the dynasty.” “No. He has no idea of what you really are.” Julietta smiled to herself. “I called her a usurper and she didn’t notice!” She thought. “You lie.” Nya spat, turning on her in rage. “I always knew you were trouble. Now I will finish this once and for all!”

Caro failed to find Julietta in the house, and wandered about calling her name. He had just about turned to go back, when he heard a low cry, and turned on his heel to see what had happened. Bursting through the locked doors, he ran inside…then froze.

He saw Nya, standing on one side of the room, talking to Corporal Dawes. On the other side of the room, he saw the form of a girl, and knew who it was. His sister, Julietta. He ran over and caught her up, crying “Sister! Wake up!” Nya turned with a start and gawked at Caro.

Then a bright light blinded them. Caro looked down, and saw years of worry and abuse erased from Julietta’s face. She didn’t look like a servant. She looked like a princess. And she was going home to be reunited with her parents, and her God.

Nya’s face contorted with rage and horror. “She was chosen!” She cried, jumping back. Corporal Dawes stared and said nothing. Caro looked at them and understood. “You did it!” He cried, blinking back tears. “It was you who killed my family! Now you’ve killed the last one, my only friend, my only sister!” He turned and ran away from her, back to his boat. The guards shouted and tried to chase him, but his mind was full of what he had seen and he did not heed them.

That night he arrived on the shores of Agur. He saw the palace, and how beautiful it was. Then he saw behind it was a cemetery. He buried the daughter of kings in the family graveyard, and looked up. The moon was bright above him.

“I will find Gino. It was the last request of my sister, and I will follow it. Nya will pay for what she has done.” Determined, the boy left the cemetery, and walked toward the town. A new life was beginning for him, and a new light was beginning to shine in the dark, sad country of Agur.

For more about Agur, Click Here.

Slavery

Ever since the fall, sin has abounded. One of the worst ways it has reared its head is in the form of slavery. Slavery is the reality of taking away, to put it in our terms, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

It originated before the flood, like most evils, as a result of unchecked evil, and soon spread. It has had a stand in every civilization in history, and unfortunately still goes on today. I believe that slavery breaks God’s heart, and that it should be stopped. Some people think that slavery died out with the Civil War in America and William Wilberforce in England. But it lives on, breeding in poverty and corrupting millions.

Sometimes the slavery is ritual, like the caste system in India, where the people feel as if they have no choice. But most often, slavery is forced. War, kidnappings, and debts can all be causes of this evil trade. Though the system is a little different it is so sadly routine: strip them of their rights and dignity, force them to serve you, and then, if need be, kill them. So it has gone on for centuries.

But there is a stirring among us. Small beginnings are sprouting all over our nation and all over the world. The love of Christ is prompting people to not be satisfied with a normal life and to make a difference. Let me make up an example.

Cici LeBlanc was a normal American teenager who volunteered with several missions around her city. In one of them she found a girl who had been taken from her home and sold to men who used her terribly. When Cici realized what was going on, she gathered her closest friends around her and started a group to help save the young men and women who did not legally exist.

She met with opposition. Most of the girls did not know English, and they were all terrified. Plus, the “buyers” weren’t too happy that their business was being tampered with. Cici’s brother pleaded with her to stop her work, but she could not.

“I have seen them with my eyes. Can I forget them? No, I will fight on, because I know that my work is making a difference.”

Though I made the story up, (it’s part of a science-fiction series that the world will probably never know) the idea is true. There are millions, millions of people who are hopeless and die in despair. People like ‘Cici’ are around everywhere, trying desperately to make a difference. There are several groups dedicated to saving kids and adults from slavery. But they need a lot of help.

Will you help them?

The Simple Truth About International Trade

Ever since the days of the Renaissance, trade between foreign—and occasionally hostile—nations has been a disputed question: should it be legal or illegal, encouraged or discouraged, and foremost, is it beneficial for both parties involved? As technology makes global trade more prevalent, the objections to unrestricted trade and the complaints against import duties and tariffs have led to complicated trade deals that are difficult to navigate. Typically the trade deals are a boon to the participating countries—but there are some who are inclined to disagree, for understandable, well thought-out reasons.

However, despite the fact that many opponents of globalization have rational concerns about international trade, the matter’s underlying aspects render them invalid.

Trade deficit

Imports and exports increase economic activity, and "trade deficits" are in no way detrimental -- and numbers are there to back it up.

Imports and exports increase economic activity, and “trade deficits” are in no way detrimental — and numbers are there to back it up.

The trade deficit can, in no wise, actually be harmful. The definition of trade deficit is “the amount by which a country’s imports exceed its exports,” and despite American unions’ protests, this is neither an undesirable effect or a detrimental one.

The free market principle of mutually beneficial exchange illustrates the point: when one purchases a gallon of milk at the store, one values the milk more highly than one values the money used in its purchase; the store values the acquired money more than it values the milk. Assuming that a trade deficit is harmful, unsustainable, or that it kills jobs assumes that one side of a transaction is always coming out behind. Thus, as in the example of the milk purchase, one side or the other will always be harmed or cheated—which is clearly not the case. The assumption that there is always a winner and a loser in a transaction (there isn’t) and that furthermore, the winner is the one with cash (even further from the truth) fuels the socialist ideology and even forms the basis for movements like Occupy Wall Street. Trade deficits are infinitely sustainable and hardly harmful.

Is independence ideal?

A country’s energy independence is likely a wise consideration; however, banning imports of all energy forms would obviously drive up the prices, limit options, and harm the economy by diverting funds from other, more wise, uses and instead squander savings merely to keep the lights on and the heater running—when energy independence may not even be necessary. Of course, no such regulation thus far has been attempted, but it serves to show that restrictions on imports in other areas are also painful to the consumer, but lucrative to the lobbyists and manufacturers who negotiated the trade ban with legislators. (The automobile industry in the past has relied heavily on such deals.)

NASA photo of earth from space shows that we keeps lots of lights on -- but how many would we switch off imports of energy were further discouraged?

NASA photo of earth from space shows that we keeps lots of lights on — but how many would we switch off imports of energy were further discouraged?

A general rule accepted by both left-leaning and right-leaning economists is the law of comparative advantage, which holds that participants in the market all benefit when they specialize in occupations and activities where they already hold an advantage. An extremely popular actor who makes $3,000,000 every year, for instance, could still turn a profit and make money if he or she obtained a job at Wal-Mart—in which case the opportunity cost of working at Wal-Mart would cost millions more dollars than the job is worth. Not only is the popular actor defying the rule of comparative advantage (something that is perfectly acceptable to do, but is generally unwise in a financial sense), the actor is taking an economic wallop for choosing to defy it, evidenced by the opportunity cost.

If one’s occupation is one’s specialty (and the most money is made in its exercise) it makes little sense for one’s attention to be diverted from baking, painting, building, or teaching—and returning to the first example—to tend to a cow several hours each day. In the end, a cow would do more financial help than harm, although it would provide a greater degree of independence. But independence is painful. For instance, in the Dark Ages, many people were independent—but they died young, suffered much, starved often, and innovated little. In wartime or in instances of isolation, independence may be necessary; in others, national economic independence is impossible, impractical, and regressive, because usually regions and countries likewise have a comparative advantage in some area and independence would force them to shy away from the specializations. The United States and Russia are two examples of geographically large and varied nations that cannot fit in one category; but regions within these countries have specialties, as do the towns and communities within the regions. The United States could do well as an economically independent nation—although it would not do as well as it does now. If the idea of “national independence” were taken far enough, autarky would apparently be perfection.

Cheap, foreign imports

Cheap, foreign imports are generally portrayed as the “working man’s nightmare” by groups intent on convincing legislators to approve high import tariffs. However, this is more of a talking point than a truth.

Cheap, foreign exports? Always better for the consumer.

Cheap, foreign exports? Always better for the consumer.

When products typically very expensive in Country A are made available by cheap foreign imports from Country B, all parties benefit except for the manufacturers in Country A, who have a strong incentive to appeal to the “law.” When legislators respond, however, this is an indication that competition is undesirable—which indeed, it is not. In the end, Country A’s consumers will get a better deal, their money will be freed up to invest in other at-home objects (meaning more exports), and more economic growth.

If imports increase, exports also increase and accompanying foreign investments also increase simultaneously, and by a similar amount. The inevitable employment reductions resulting from an increase in cheap imports are entirely offset by employment increases in export industries: other industries in which Country A has the advantage are now receiving cash once tied up in the expensive, homemade goods now replaced by Country B’s cheaper, better alternatives.

Nike vs. Carl the Shoemaker

Lastly, capitalism is an unfair economic system: but it most be noted that all other economic systems are exceedingly more unfair than capitalism and free trade. While Carl the shoemaker may lose business whenever Nike imports running shoes into town, shoes will suddenly become available to the village and money once reserved for shoes only can now be put to use in other areas, including investment, entrepreneurship, or education. Should everyone suffer for the sake of one man’s inconvenience? Carl, after all, can either get a job with Nike or he can branch out into a specialty field of dress shoes, or he could move into an entirely different field. Opportunities are numerous in a thriving free market economy.

Whether the question is of trade deficits, financial independence, or cheap foreign imports, what you see at first is not necessarily reality. Looking beyond the first of a chain of reactions is necessary for financial success and economic understanding.

Mountains

I am going to tell you about something you have probably never seen in Southeast Texas: a mountain. Sure, Beaumont means “Beautiful Mountain” in French, but my dad thinks that those poor explorers were stuck in the swamp too long. As a rule, our landscape is very flat, with some artificial hills here and there.

We used to live in the Carolina mountains, and we knew mountains. Not the ones you could see the top of, but the ones that looked like they were planted by giants. They were a part of our life. We were used to having to drive carefully, used to ice, used to seeing cliffs and drop offs. Because we were so familiar with them, we never noticed how truly wonderful they were. We never saw their majesty. But of course, we’re not there anymore, and we are starting to appreciate rock formations, simply because we don’t have them.

For us, mountains are a glimpse of what is to come. We know what lies on the other side of those peaks: friends and family. But the mountains are not at all kind. They are dangerous. Along the sides of the wall, you can see the sides of the rock wall veering up from you all the way to the sky. It gives whole new meaning to that verse that says “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20)

When you are at a distance from the mountains, they seem so big and imposing. Some are so high that their tops are in the clouds. Others have wooded, grassy tops that house a few families and sometimes even large buildings.

But when you begin to drive up the mountains, the ‘big’ factor is multiplied. You can see a whole city below you and know that one wrong step might send you tumbling. But there is a jubilation when you can see so much, a feeling that “Never leaves you alone,” as Caedmon’s Call once sang about a volcano.

There has been a lot said about mountains, so I won’t go in depth. In a day or so I will be driving through them, seeing mountain springs and beautiful woods. But until then, I’ll leave you with this.

This journey is dangerous. It is like a mountain road: slick, unsure, with boulders the size of cars just sitting there, waiting to fall on anyone who disturbs them. It is dangerous, sometimes heartbreaking. But the wonders you find when you scale the mountain are so worth it. We are hidden in a cloud, we see nothing but white. But there is a break in the mist and a destination waiting for us.

So even through all the treachery, when it is almost over we can cry with the old hobbit “Mountains, Gandalf! I want to see mountains!” Before I go off on a tangent, I’m going to stop writing. But before I do, I just want to say

Don’t Give up!

A Review of Judges

The warriors of the Old Testament were no weaklings. Well, some of them. There were a few who were, well, scared. In fact, a few had to be told several times to fight. However, there were a few things that we do not understand about the times of the judges. Since my pastor is running through Judges, I learned some things.

1. The judges were needed. The world at that time was a mess. A BIG mess. They needed to listen to God, and to teach their children how to believe in him as well. But, instead, they disobeyed God and though they served him with their LIPS, their HEARTS were unchanged, and the children could tell. Each new generation became worse than the last.

2. Their ‘neighbors’ were not nice at all. They sacrificed children, had inappropriate relationships, kidnapped, stole, and sold people into slavery. They worshipped fake gods, and were all too happy to invite the children of Israel to join in, if they had a chance of taking over eventually.

3. Their world was very violent. It was dangerous for anyone: boy or girl. The atrocities committed there were so awful I’m not going to mention them. Literature back there was very violent as well, which explains the “Slow-motion” (as my pastor calls it) killing scenes.

4. God was merciful. He loved the Israelites even through they scorned him and did things that grieved him terribly. Because he loved them, he hurt them by raising up powers to make them turn back to him. And he raised up judges to save them.

We’re a lot like the people of Israel. We have our own land but we seem to have forgotten to honor the God who brought us here. Let us be careful not to forget all that he has done to give us this nation.

And read Judges. It has some of the best battles in the Bible. And that last verse: “In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did what was right in his own eyes” is still applicable today.

Slap Totalitarianism in the Face

flag compressed “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors,” said Plato.

Elections are a tricky business—a reoccurring chance for politicians to toss mud at each other after having thrown mud and taxes at the citizens for two, four, or six years. Whilst claiming that entire voter blocs are “knuckleheads,” “racists,” or even “pigs,” politicians suppose that anything inoffensive to the supposed majority ought to be fine, in word, deed, and even legislation.

In word, politicians stir the pot with statements stabbing opponents and even comparing the opposition’s support to “cockroaches” to be “swept away” on election day (a genuine show of Hardin County’s political ideals, for sure).

In deed, they deny basic courtesy—refusing to shake hands, resolutely glaring at “the enemy.” And in Orange County, candidates even resort to physical violence.

In legislation, politicians-turned-rulers even tend to deny vast percentages of the population their humanity—until the 20th century, skin color or race was reason for indescribable tyranny and persecution. In modern times, unborn people are portrayed as worthless, lifeless masses of cells.

“They’re so rude that I’ve decided not to vote.” 

It’s a common verdict, and it does have its reasons. The intense emotions and hurtful insults are detrimental factors that negatively affect voter turnout. However, it just proves to politicians that you care nothing for the debate and that you intend to do nothing to stop them.

Refusing to vote—although it may not be your motive, and surely not what you wish for—is something that indicates an apathetic surrender. When candidates call you a “knucklehead” or a “cockroach”, it hurts; but flying a white flag is anything but a well thought-out response.

Refusing to vote squanders a portion of your ballot in a partial endorsement of the very man or woman who insisted you were meaningless.

Refusing to vote aids the individual who has vowed to harm you and your ideological fellows.

Refusing to vote is refusing to question societal ultimatums and government-backed ideological attacks.

Refusing to vote is a signal that you won’t refuse anything else in the future.

Voting is defiance. It proves that you care enough to slap evil in the face. Go ahead, give it a try. Punching totalitarianism in the gut feels good—and one of the best ways to do it is to start with your ballot.

The Bonanza Era: Southeast Texas Sawmill Heritage

An early sawmill in Texas

A logging operation for an early east Texas sawmill

Winding through rows of grayish, unpainted clapboard houses, miles upon miles of alternately dusty and muddy streets buzz with activity: ragged, mop-headed children—coming to or from playtime on the railroad cars and mill ponds—trot in flocks to their collective destination; lanky, grim-faced loggers, who make an honest living but live a tough life, rush away from a screeching whistle signaling that work is over; and housewives watch the chaos as they attempt household chores, despite the airborne sawdust forcing itself into “every nook and cranny.” The sweetish smell of pine logs paired with the natural Texas humidity and the steamy sawmill fog made for a trademark industry odor.

Just 100 years ago, this was the face of southeast Texas.

Logging was an unbelievably large facet of both the United States economy and the southeast Texas economy.

Before the Spindletop oil boom from 1901 to the late 1920s, logging constituted the primary economic pursuit of southeast Texas. Eager entrepreneurs in search of financial success transformed the entire economic outlook for Hardin, Newton, Jasper, and even Jefferson counties.

Recognized mostly for their proximity to major local cities Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Houston, small towns including Kirbyville, Evadale, Silsbee, and even Lumberton owe their existence to the Bonanza Era of Texas sawmills—a period of unprecedented Texas dominance and involvement in the lumber industry, from 1876 to 1917.

Texas is and has been predominantly successful in raising livestock. In modern times, pumping oil and gas has also been an economic forte in the Lone Star state; but for the past 150 years, the lumber industry has also fared remarkably well.

One of the top three logging and lumber-exporting states during the Bonanza Era, Texas has remained among the top ten lumber producing states. The Piney Woods region and the Big Thicket near the eastern border of the state have contributed much to Texas’ excellent lumber statistics, more so than any other area of the state.

Many Texas sawmill towns (corporately-owned communities usually sponsored by the mill’s owners) have disappeared entirely, becoming ghost towns inhabited by surprising numbers of tourists, curious locals, and historians. However, a number of them are still existent and thriving today.

While many sawmill towns have vanished or dwindled to nothing, in some instances the centrally located mills, which once comprised town centers, have survived despite the absence of a surrounding village.

The Voth sawmill can still be seen today, on the banks of the Pine Island Bayou.

The Voth sawmill can still be seen today, on the banks of the Pine Island Bayou.

J. Frank Keith’s 1902 sawmill located in Voth, on the banks of Pine Island Bayou and mere yards within the Jefferson County border, is visible from Highway 96 going from Lumberton to Beaumont. Because of the 2,000,000 acres of dense virgin forest that once covered what is now known as southeast Texas, over six hundred sawmills were in existence simultaneously at one point during the Bonanza Era.

Hardin, Tyler, Polk, Newton, and Jasper Counties were covered in highly profitable stumpage (log measure of uncut trees or logs), to which landowners interested in farming gladly sold the logging rights to nearby sawmills. Jefferson County, however, was a far cry from its heavily-forested northern counterparts.

W.T. Block explains in his book, East Texas Mill Towns and Ghost Towns, “Jefferson County has a most unusual sawmill history, not because of any great forest which stand within its boundaries, but due to its proximity to the Neches River and its tributaries, Sabine Lake, and the Gulf of Mexico.”

The sawmill building on the banks of the Bayou was a relatively large one, a 50,000-foot operation provided with logs from Saratoga. A newspaper later reported in November 1904 that:

…The mill is logged from Stutts on the Warren, Corsicana, and Pacific Railroad in TylerCounty. The logs are hauled from Stutts to Warren, 22 miles, and thence to Voth, 32 miles distant, a total distance of 54 miles…A new dry shed with a capacity of 1,000,000 feet of lumber has just been put up. The logs at Voth are dumped into Pine Island Bayou and are used when needed… 

The Kirby Lumber Corporation, the founder of which is responsible for the construction, existence, and names of many local sawmill towns (including Kirbyville), purchased the Voth sawmill in 1924. In 1948, the mill was still operating at a 75,000 feet capacity and continued until 1952, when the Kirby Corporation consolidated much of its milling operations.

The sawmill, which many residents still drive past on a daily basis, was the last significant sawmill in Jefferson County to shut down—and with it died many of the tight-knit but easily unraveled industrial communities accompanying the era.

Detailing sawmill towns of the Bonanza years, Thad Sitton and James Conrad described in Nameless Towns, “Mill-town children grew up using their heavy-industry surroundings as a playscape. They walked the rails, visited the depot to meet passenger trains, clambered about on the elevated dollyways after quitting time, rode the big draft horses in the corral, tobogganed down sawdust piles, chased each other leaping from stack to stack of lumber air-drying in the yard, walked logs floating in the millpond, stole handcars from the shop and pumped them about on the rails, went on moonlit courting walks down the railroad tracks and across the lumberyards, and otherwise enjoyed the mill town and its environs. For children and adults alike, the millpond did double duty as a center of recreational life, which included fishing, swimming, frog-gigging, and even dancing.”

The Bonanza Era was a time in which thousands of Texans spent their childhoods in such communities; in fact, many elderly southeast Texans can remember—although not necessarily having lived in them—the sawmill towns once abundant in Hardin County. The cultural impact of sawmill towns and the highly influential lumber industry has shaped the local identity.

While the lumber industry remains an enormous force in the Texas economy, it bears little resemblance to the miniature empires established by men like John Henry Kirby. Even as recently as the early 1990s, lumber was a leading industry in Texas. The Bonanza Era is over—but the impact it made on southeast Texas life can never be forgotten.

The Question of Potato Chips

What if this had come earlier?

What if this had come earlier?

It is a question that has resounded for the past 158 years, ever since that day in late August of 1856 that the potato chip was invented: what would have happened if it had come earlier?

Many hypotheses include guesses that world peace would have prevailed for centuries at a time; that all human suffering would subside when the “crisps” (as the British know them) were plentiful; and that humans would have discovered a different solution to the cholesterol problem by now.

However, it is necessary to take a more reasonable approach. Like chocolate in South America, salt in the Middle East, and precious metals in Europe, potato chips—if they had been introduced into an ancient environment—would have become more than just a trading material, but a useful commodity and a staple food, somewhat of a combination of all three.

While chocolate was a luxury reserved for the rich, while salt was a fact of Roman life, and while precious metals had become a currency of sorts, potato chips would have become everything at once: an everyday luxury/currency.

As in most cases dealing with luxuries and necessities, the nature of the good involved can spark conflicts: growing populations would require more potato chips, and conquistadores would fight for fortunes or at least modest supplies of the crunchy fare.

Obviously the early rise of potato chips would change world history, thus it is imperative that we consider the consequences of such an early discovery.

Here is an alternative historical timeline featuring the rise of potato chips in 544 B.C.:

544 B.C.: Potato chips are invented and are soon developed into a luxury good offered to emperors, gods, and anybody rich enough to afford them.

507 B.C. – Crisps are now available to the masses, and instantly catch on. Grains are no longer the primary food source, nor do farmers continue to develop better seeds or varieties. Potatoes are now in fashion.

10 B.C. – The Roman Empire, now in existence, is conquering surrounding nations at alarming rates, with massive public support for the wars. Most of the conquests are primarily in search of land suitable for growing potatoes.

80 A.D. – Emperor Titus is assassinated because he would not give potato chips and circuses to the plebeians.

94 A.D. – A potato farmer becomes emperor of Rome, contributing to the industry and financing with the public purse a scientific search for a cure for cholesterol.

285 A.D. – The Roman Empire splits in two after experiencing a 20-year long civil war due to a discrepancy between barbecue potato chips versus sour cream and onion potato chips. The state on the west side is known as the Barbecue Empire, and side on the east is known as Saurecreanonion Republic.

410 A.D. – The Barbecue Empire is sacked by the Vegegoths, who are considered “barbarians” and oppose potatoes, considering them unhealthy.

979 A.D. – Potato chips have now been sent to or discovered in every continent.

1099 A.D. – The first Chewsade, a campaign fighting for a comeback of potato chips in the apparently hostile Middle East (inhabited by descendents of the Vegegoths), takes place.

1206 – Genghis Khan begins spreading vinegar potato chips around Eurasia.

1337 – The Hundred Years’ War begins, as England and France, respectively, fight over the issue of salt-and-pepper chips and lemon potato chips.

1347 – A serious disease begins spreading throughout Europe, mainly because of low-quality potatoes. An estimated 20-40% of the population was wiped out in the first year.

1439 – Johannes Gutenberg invents cellophane, revolutionizing potato chip transportation and storage.

1492 – Christopher Columbus reaches the New World, where he immediately begins testing the soil to see if it is suitable for growing potatoes.

1503 – Leonardo da Vinci begins painting the Mona Lisa, a portrait of a girl and a bag of potato chips.

1689 – John Locke writes a letter concerning toleration, demanding that different types of potato chips be allowed in a free market.

1773 — A protest known as the Boston Chip Party erupts due to King George’s exorbitant tax on potato chips, the industry of which was already a monopoly. The Boston Chip Party’s participants dumped over 342 cases of crisps into the Boston Harbor.

1776 – The Declaration of Independence makes its debut, featuring a mention of the King’s tyrannical policy of potato chip taxation.

1789 – The French Revolution begins, a revolution fought over clashes between proponents of French fries and potato chips.

1879 – Thomas Edison invents an automatic potato-slicer, further cheapening the necessity.

1890 – Spud National Park is established.

1903 – The Wright Brothers make the first powered flight, over a potato farm.

1919 – The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution kicks off an era known as “Prohibition,” in which potato chips are no longer permitted to be eaten with spinach dip.

1929 – The Great Depression begins and the stock market crashes, particularly blue chip stocks.

1955 – McDonald’s opens and features French fries, a major blow to potato chips, which have been around for over a thousand years.

1957 – Dr. Suess publishes Spud in the Mud.

1969 – America sends a man to the moon, mainly to check to see if there was any potential of utilizing the surface as a potato-growing facility.

1990 – The United States signs a treaty that strikes a deal with Russia, re-introducing potato chips to the nation.

2008 – The 2008 recession begins, resulting in another crucial blow to blue chip stocks.

2009 – President Barack Obama is inaugurated, and soon after he pushes through legislation allegedly making potato chips “affordable,” but essentially socializes the American chip market.

2009 — A political party called the Chip Party forms in protest of the Affordable Chip Act, but in a broad sense, it forms to oppose liberal “health nuts.”

2014 – The Affordable Spud Act results in mass pandemonium and worldwide hunger as a main staple food is restricted from consumers.

Failure

Failure is disputably one of the worst things that you can experience. You put all of your work into something, and it simply fails to work. However, failure is a test, and like all tests, is only there to make us better.

All of us fail. In one thing or another, failure will happen. Even the most intelligent people on the face of the earth struggled to accomplish their goals. Think of the early reformers who tried for so long to translate the Bible, but then were brutally punished for their efforts. Or the inventor who tried thousands of different things only to fail once more.

But as I said, failure is a test. It shows us how much we can really take, how long it takes for us to quit. Do you quit from the first failure? The tenth? The thousandth?

Thomas Edison once said “Many  of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they  were to success when they gave up.”  These people had wonderful ideas but didn’t think that they were capable of accomplishing them. Maybe they became discouraged and quit, never knowing until it was too late how close they were to their goal.

When you fail, and you do not give up, you learn. I remember struggling with a computer program for hours, re-writing it three times, before it finally worked. My problem? I had been writing the program on the wrong file. Often, we are hung up on the silliest of things. Failure forces us to learn more about what we are doing and changes us from amateurs to professionals.

In our walk with God, it is often easy to believe that we have failed too much to do any good. Our adversary encourages this thinking and tries to get us to feel worthless, because then we become worthless. If he can kill the dream, he can neutralize our potential.

Interestingly, one of the best examples of overcoming failure that I have found is in King David. He sinned terribly, lied, cheated, stole, and killed. But when he was confronted, he confessed his sins and repented. However, his sins were punished by years of turmoil and heartbreak. Still, at the end of his life, David glorified God, and was known as a ‘man after God’s own Heart.’

Don’t be discouraged! You have failed, but you can rise. There is hope for all who trust in Christ.