Chosen Ones: Strategy

Caro shook his head. “I still can’t believe this? How could Gino do something so…so…” “Stupid?” Davis suggested. Caro glared at him. “Thank you. I was thinking foolish.”

Davis held up his hands. “Don’t blame me; I’m just as confused as anyone here. Opal, are you sure that this is true?” Rora bowed her head and stood up. “Sir, Gino went back to the building after Pussy. He wanted to make sure we didn’t forget her, knowing how much she meant to…Opal.” Opal put her arms around her beloved cat protectively.

Promise growled and his ears shot up. Caro rubbed his head. “Promise senses something wrong.” He sighed. “He’s like an alarm clock for danger. But this… this disrupts everything! What is the plan now?”

Davis wheeled around and faced them. “I think we’ve been running too long, Prince Caro. We’re so close to the capitol. It’s time to act.” Opal lifted her sightless eyes to his. “And what would you have us do?” She asked.

Davis thought for a moment. “What if we sent you and Rora ahead to the capitol? As long as you travel with us, you will be in danger. But alone, who would notice you? You could wait in the city until we arrive, and then if something happens to us, you’ll be able to go on.” Pussy climbed onto Opal’s shoulder and licked her ear. Opal gently lifted her off. “That is an idea.” She said slowly. “But whether it is a good one or not is beyond me.”

“If only we had Gino.” Caro grumbled. “Why did he have to leave us for something so foolish?” “Gino had troubles few knew about.” Opal cried. “I do not justify his works, but only ask for understanding. You can only see a portion of what is happening.”

They were silent for a while. “You’re right.” Caro said softly. “I’m sorry, Opal. That was out of turn.” “I am as well.” Opal sighed. “Sorry that this had to happen at all. Sorry that we don’t have a chance without his advice.”

“We might have lost one person, but we still have some left.” Davis said stubbornly. “I came to help take Nya from the throne. And I intend to finish that purpose as far as I can help it.” Caro laughed, took Opal’s hands, and helped her up. “That’s good for me. I think we can try that plan Davis came up with.”

Opal sighed. “I don’t know. The capitol is such a chaotic mess. I can only see tiny snatches of what’s going on, from tiny things that Gino sends me, but even that is becoming less and less frequent. He’s scared. That scares me.” Caro sighed with her. Both Opal and Caro knew what Nya was like. “What scares you, that Gino is scared?” He asked.

Opal laughed. “Gino is always scared.” She said softly. “Even when we were small children. My memories are so vague from that time, but I remember one thing. Grown-up Gino coming to me and asking me what I see. I don’t see anything. He says he is worried about his parents. Then I tell him. And he starts to cry.” Opal began to cry herself and sat back down. “I’m scared that he’s alone. Gino is strong. But not that strong.”

Promise slunk over and laid his head on her knees, as if to say, “I miss him too.” Opal rubbed his head. “Don’t worry about Gino, Opal. Someone is watching him, just like He’s watching us.” Caro said, looking out towards the rest of the camp. “But what do we tell the others?”

“To be perfectly honest, Prince Caro, most of them had no idea of Gino’s real job here. In fact, a few of them wondered why he was here at all. We don’t need a mapmaker, we have some professional scouts now, and Gino couldn’t fight or lead.” Davis explained. Caro nodded.

“Why bring a shepherd? Why not a soldier? I don’t know why The Creator chose, or why he chose us. But there has to be a reason. We’ll continue on. I think you’re right, Davis. It’s getting too dangerous for the girls. We should send them on. Well, if Rora is willing.”

Rora was willing, and the plans were made. They needed a good time to enter the city, and it hadn’t come yer. But they were impatient to begin. The faster they got there, the faster they took out Nya. Davis, Caro, and Opal had another reason: the faster they stopped Nya, the sooner they found Gino.

Opal seemed reluctant. Though she never said anything, something was bothering her. She shook her head, as if to clear it, but the doubt remained. Caro noticed. “Are you frightened?” He asked one day, almost right before their departure.

Opal’s eyes turned blank. “No.” She said softly. “I’m not frightened. I’m just…worried. Those of my order were powerful, and I am young. I have no training, and no sight. How, if I were to face Nya, and she resisted, would I fare?”

“But what about the words of promise?” Caro asked. Opal tilted her head. “There is that, yes. If I can speak in her presence, I will say that. But it will be difficult. And heartbreaking.” She covered her face with her hands. Caro had been thinking of her statement. “Your order? What does that mean?”

Opal laughed, in spite of herself. “Did no one tell you of the schools of the prophets? My order is the Iya. My mother, in fact, was of the priestly line. Her father was furious when she married mine, a peasant. She named me Iya, after the order I was born into. My father called me Opal.”

“Nya is also an Iya. Strangely enough, her name was once Iya as well, but she changed it, as you know. The other Iya are gone. I can’t help but wonder if Nya had something to do with that, and that my father changed my name to protect me. Dear Father! I miss him. But I worry. Nya’s power is stronger than mine. Much stronger, like a child compared to a giant!”

“A child slew the giant, when the Creator was with him.” Caro mused. “I don’t think you should worry about that. He is with you. He has left her.” Opal sighed. “But did that weaken her, or make her stronger?” She worried.

The next day, the two girls set out. “It’s better this way.” Caro assured Opal. She looked at him in that strange way that made him feel like she could see right into him. She smiled sadly. “Until we meet again?” She said timidly, holding out her hand. “We’ll be there soon.” Caro said again. Opal shook her head, and turned to Rora. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”

Goofy Dog news report

Hi there. I’m Tanner, and well, I thought you might want to know how well I’m doing without my leader, Clara. You know her as Happy Dog. Well, don’t you worry. I’m being a good dog. I follow all the rules, chase cars, and bark at the mailman.

Well, you know how those weird mail people have this strange habit of getting out of their cars. What is the point of that? They have these nice little cars with their nice little tires and seats and radios and all sorts of things. Why would they want to leave them?

But they do, and I have to chase them. When they leave their cars, that makes me have to go to all the trouble of chasing them and chewing their shoes off. They sure run fast. And they really don’t like it when you bite them. Talk about bad-tempered!

So when Clara said that there’s nothing to do when you’re in solitary confinement, she was right. Nothing. Why is it my fault that the person intruded? Hey, I could have told him not to do that. That’s just silly.

But the real issue is that my place as cool cucumber 1 is being threatened. There’s a new puppy around. At first I chased him off and Dad chased him off and everyone…well, actually, it was three in the mornin’ and no one was awake but me and Daddy and Sammy because he was eatin’ dinner. Who eats at three in the morning? But that’s not the point.

The point is, I knew I had to get him out of here before Melly woke up or we’d never get to the end of it. It didn’t work out. She woke up, and Adam, and Sam…Sam never went to sleep. He’s a weird kid. And Grace woke up and Bekah and Joel and Merry and Eowyn and Spot and…hold on. Somehow, I left off naming people and started naming chickens. Oops. What were we talking about again?

Oh yeah, little black. So he came, and he was typical puppy. No manners, no grammer…gramer, grammmmr, how ever you say that, he didn’t have it. And he took everyone by the heartstrings. They called him Blackie and Shadow and other things, but no one would agree to that. Something about having stuffed animals with those names.

In a Hank book, there were some dogs named black and jack. Momma and Bekah started calling him Black Jack, and it stuck. Something about a card game. Bekah said it had to do with a weapon, so it didn’t quite come off without an argument, but he’s Jack. Daddy calls him Puppy Jack. I think it has to do with cheese.

There are a lot of jokes with Jack in ’em.

But who cares about the name? The little turkey is trespassing. Sure, he’s cute, cuddly, and loves to play. But what about the dogs who make it all possible? What about the people who sacrifice everything to make sure that delivery guys approach the house with fear?

Poor me. No one can compete with puppy love.

The College Game

university of texas

When you were an impressionable preschooler, your companions would ask you if you wanted to play “house” or “school” or “work.” When you are eighteen, or nearing it, your friends and others start asking if you want to play “college.”

One of these endeavors is often a waste of time with little to no practical life value; the other was your childhood game.

 

If you choose to play the college game, once more every cent means something to you. Finding a penny in the parking lot elicits as much exuberance as it did a decade and a half or so ago.

 

Just like in your preschool years, there is a huge emphasis on “sharing.” Hurting anyone’s feelings results in a strict administration of kindergarten-like social justice. Offering up an opinion and arguing your point are two cardinal academic sins: after all, we have to have a free and tolerant exchange of ideas where nobody is criticized.

 

Suddenly meaningless skills start mattering again—except instead of burping, imprisoning insects, or shooting rubber bands, it’s whether or not you can write a politically correct film evaluation for a required credit.

 

Those who were good at aiming rubber bands stole the show and ruled the roost back in the day; those who are skilled in regurgitating test material and those who sacrifice true academic pursuits for mandatory courses like Etymology of the Twinkie and Squirrel Imitation 101 get ahead in college.

 

Students interested in education probably fare well; those interested in learning do not. However, unlike in your preschool years, you do not have as much choice this time: in your early childhood you could reject a fantastical game and its irrational rules with little consequence.

 

You’re not so fortunate now.

 

If you want to enter a technical field, you have little choice but to get further training; if you want to learn about anything categorized under “Liberal Arts” your studies will oftentimes be rejected unless it comes along with a $400,000 piece of paper saying you took some classes.

 

Unless you are either an incredibly brilliant individual or fit into an arbitrary race and income bracket, you probably will get little help with scholarships. Student loans are a racket from the start, and cheap college is an oxymoron.

 

Many things about colleges are part of a game, one invented by universities, fostered by bureaucracy, and sustained by government subsidization. Whereas in a free market a profit motive encourages excellence, low prices, and innovation, in a situation where jack-booted IRS thugs are involved and the intrusive arm of the state controls all, political entrepreneurship is the only worthwhile effort.

 

Completely unrelated courses are suddenly made mandatory; fees multiply; strange research projects and building boondoggles pervade the campus; religion and free speech, as a matter of course, have to be scrubbed because of government funding and control.

 

Alternatives to traditional college accreditation are starting to pop up—things like CollegePlus, dual credit, online classes, apprenticeship-like arrangements, and CLEP testing—thanks to innovation in an area which has for decades and centuries been dominated by monopolistic state-owned, state-sponsored, or state-controlled institutions.

 

As for learning without official accreditation, thousands of websites akin to Udemy and Khan Academy teach everything from calculus to music theory. Learning isn’t as hard as it used to be.  If you can’t avoid a mandatory Slovakian Finger-Food Etiquette course, at least the free market is making it possible to avoid some of the exorbitant cost.

 

Well, do you want to play “college”? If you’re the kid with steely resolve and a sense of direction, you might be the one—just like in preschool—to say no and play a game with different rules.

Why Authors are Dreamers

Rachel has quite excellently written about the insanity of book-writing. However, her experience was based on a historical fiction. I would like to lend my experience in the often misunderstood realm of Fantasy.

To different people, Fantasy can mean anything from “Alice in Wonderland” to “Star Wars”. To me, Fantasy is writing that dabbles with the fantastic, that is, realms beyond our knowledge. Fairies, mermaids, tree spirits, water nymphs, creatures of my imagination, and of the imaginations of countless others throughout human history.

From the beginning, creatures have been imagined and recorded in mythology, from fauns and monsters to wicked serpents. Some of these legends stand knee-deep in truth, but they are a good basis. However, because of those who wrote them, most stories about these creatures have been dark, disgusting, or disturbing. Or, as one former classmate imagined, “all of the above”.

There is a definite difference between the writer of a historical fiction and the writer of a fantasy. Now the research takes on a quite different type. Science fiction? You have to know something about computers and technology. Fairies? What about plants? But the most troubling bits of fiction are the kinds where the worlds themselves are fabricated.

I like to think of myself as an architect. With my keyboard, I build landscapes. With my pencil, I lay out cities. And with my imagination, I produce…people! Characters, all with their strengths and weaknesses, their loves and hates, their struggles and their triumphs. But that’s when it gets interesting.

When you are building your own world, you have to populate it. Where are the mountain ranges? Should there be rivers, or should this be a vast plain? Where is the ocean? And who lives where? In most books, all you need to find out about these things is look at a map. But when you’re the one building the world, you’re the mapmaker. Cities pop up like wildflowers. Forts and castles raise their stony heads from the earth, as each is bestowed with its own name. Countries form slowly, until they emerge from their chrysalis, new and wet and vulnerable.

Then the characters emerge. That’s when pets are especially helpful, because in this world, in order for the characters to be unique, they are animals (in the broad, fantasy sense). Tall, reserved cats and their enemies, the quick-tempered, yet loyal, Flash-Dogs. Bats the size of Dragons, and rabbits with wings. Dogs who can transform, werewolf-like, into dragons.

But before you go into ecstasy about the simplicity of it all, this type of writing requires almost more research than historical fiction. At least in that case, the information needed is a little easier to find. Here, we need to know about how mountains are formed. Can lava form on top of water? Is it possible for water to be moved organically, through some sort of chemical process? What would have to be in fur to keep it from burning? What kinds of substances melt in water? These are the strange questions that we have to think about.

Unfortunately, the thinking part is what usually gets us in trouble. Sure, I might be washing dishes on the outside, but on the inside I’m going through a dialogue between Gino and the evil dictatoress, Nya. (Which is coming soon to Chosen Ones in a week or so)Around this time, someone asks me a question, and I break both trains of thought to try to answer it. Some would call this daydreaming. I call it plot development. But that’s a very different point all together.

One of the strange things about all this is that you become protective of your story. If you tell someone, and they seem uninterested, you mentally check them off the list. Eventually you split up your friends between those who support your world and those who are more…practical.

But in all this foolishness, there’s that ever-present question: am I writing something worth reading? My stories now are better than they were a year ago, or even six months ago. I’ve aged in my writing. But are my stories pure? Are my characters true? Are my countries and creatures realistic?

The true danger with fantasy is that the laws are self-imposed. You, essentially, are the creator, and must decide what is right and wrong. Because of this, fantasy can get us into worlds of trouble. Is it right to fight for what we believe? Is it right to defend ourselves? Is it right to lead? Your worldview translates into that of your creation. Those who read your work can see that instantly.

As with all things, our writing must be “whatever is true… honorable… just… pure… lovely… commendable… if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think(write) about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 abbreviated) Whether the character is wielding a sword or a pen, he/she should act honorably at all times. I’m not saying that they are perfect. I’m saying that they should act as we do, and follow their creator’s bidding, which is good and right. Our stories should reflect our faith.

That’s the really hard part of writing. All these things we need to think through, all the problems with our stories, all the things that have to be accurate, even in our own creation, make authors some of the rarest people in the world…the published ones. Many never finish. Some good talent languishes because the person is too scared to act. I call them sleepwalkers; dreamers who never wake up and fulfill their dreams.

And of course, there is the tragedy of the great authors who never were allowed to live because they were an inconvenience when they were small. Our literature might have been changed dramatically, but for that tragic fact. The authors have disappeared from history.

To make up for that, and all the garbage that assaults us from every angle, I believe that more young people should write! The brain is like a muscle, and needs to be exercised. Trust me, my first story was about a cat with superpowers. It was rather strange, had over ten characters, and a really weird plot. I’ve learned since then.

So what are you like? Do you want to re-write history, in a way, like Rachel? Or would you rather make your own, like me? Maybe you’re into neither, and would rather write about the Constitution. Or toasters. Or anything!

My brother received a Matthew West CD for Christmas. I really like the lyrics. “If you’re living, if you’re breathing, you have something to say. If you know your heart is beating, you have something to say.” You do have something to say. It’s time to write!

Picture this

A really wierd picture of DNAI have a new fascination with the DNA in the human body. Sure, it’s super complicated, and even the tiny bit I know befuddles me. It’s hard to understand how DNA and its twin, RNA, can form the intricacies of our bodies down to our eye color. It all has to do with the proteins that they make. God planned it well.

Of course, this would mean you’d need a little practice with DNA. Everyone who has heard the term associates it with the weird loopy thing that some scientists call a double-helix. Each of those strands are made out of four chemicals, and those are called adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. I know, I know. Those names seem crazy. It gets a little strange. Especially since A only links to T, G to C, and vice-versa.

Now before you fall over dead, give me a little time. Those strange little double-helixes unravel easily, and the twin, RNA, likes to hold on to the strands. Because of those weird little chemicals, the RNA holds on to the DNA like a photo negative.

Who cares about photo negatives?

Don’t leave yet. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. I knew that proteins were made out of amino acids, which are made into really, really, weirdly long strands of them. I still didn’t understand how the DNA was used in making protein. I mean, I knew it was important, but I didn’t get it. The RNA negative was used really strange, and seemed to just hang around. I didn’t get it. Why did we start out with DNA and just copy it backwards? What’s the point? God, I think you need to add a few more steps to the process.

Of course what I didn’t know is that certain type of RNA has a strange habit of attracting amino acids. Or that that tiny piece of RNA can only attach to a certain acid depending on the chemicals making it (which there are only three spots to fill, but with four choices,

tRNA, a strange act of God's creativity.

tRNA, a strange act of God’s creativity.

that’s 4! or 24 different possibilities). This is called tRNA, and looks somewhat like the crudely-drawn model below. There are three bases that attach to one big circular acid.

So why is this important? Like a magnet, our negative draws these little floaters to itself, and they latch onto only a specific section of it. As they latch on, their acids are dragged with them. Amino acids. You might guess how this is going to work out. When every space is filled, we have a long train of acids under our negative. We have a protein.

Now consider how complex this is.

If I was in charge of our genetic material, aside from the massive headache I would have, life would be exterminated. But in a strange, improbable world where I was in charge of a new reproductive system, I might be able to find these chemicals. Under the right stimulation, I might make them bond. But how would I know that the ‘c’ bonds to the ‘g’? I can’t even see them!

When I get to the DNA itself, we’d really be in trouble. If it was at all possible for me to somehow build DNA, and to be able to make enough to make one protein (which is really an underachievement) then I would have to match it with RNA. Oops, what if I’ve forgotten to invent that? And what rule would I have for the amino acids? Do you realize that the simplest protein in our bodies, ribonuclease, has 124 amino acids, and that it’s an anomaly? The ‘average’ protein has several thousand.

I’m not ignorant. I’ve studied physics. I’ve done some chemistry. I know anatomy. I have algebra 2 and geometry experience. My brother thinks I’m a…I’m not going to repeat the word. In our house, an insult to me is telling me I’m smart. He knows that. It’s a bit strange.

All the same, there’s that little issue that my brain can’t get around. To have the knowledge to form a single strand of protein would take me years. To have the tools and machinery to accomplish that would take a research grant. But what did it take God? “Let there be life.” And it was.

Instantly all the laws of life and order were formed, and all these things were taken care of. Wisely, justly, and perfectly. When we study this, we are forced to admit like Einstein that there is a God, and he speaks the language of math

Or, after all, we could believe that random fate somehow formed all this. Now that that would take some faith.

 

Why Authors Are Insane

u-2Aspirations to write a novel aren’t unusual. In fact, teenaged females are particularly vulnerable to such hankerings. It has yet to be determined whether or not many of these hopeful writers even begin, and it’s quite uncertain whether more than a handful ever finish.

So when I decided to take the step, a good two and a half years ago, I imagined first of all that it would be a fabulous book if only I could finish it. And all that I had to do was force myself to write.

Outlining? Outlining is for wimps. First and foremost, I wanted to get things going, to start the actual process, to meet my characters. That was my first mistake.

After due deliberation, I decided on the novel I would write: a Cold War espionage adventure/mystery based on the U-2 crash over Russian territory in 1960. I named the main character after my cat. That was my second mistake.

It just so happens that historical novels also require research. Research is hard.

I've got this figured out.

I’ve got this figured out.

I found myself searching for everything from glove etiquette to 1963 CIA budget information. My internet search history could have been either that of a murderer or an author: how long does it take for a person to bleed to death from a gunshot wound to the shoulder? How did Soviets torture people? What lethal poisons are best disguised in alcohol?

Writing a novel alters your mental state, it’s safe to say. Strange things start happening. Even when you’re working on it by yourself, you start saying things like “we’re planning on making the fifteenth chapter the showdown” or “our story is …”

As it turns out, products of your imagination blend with your mind. The story makes you a stronger person, if less of a sane one. You don’t always learn to solve problems, but you do learn how to create them.

Unfortunately, you also learn interesting ways to get rid of people. You learn how to destroy everything that is dear and good to your main character, to leave him in a situation so bleak there appears to be no way out.

The events of a good adventure novel ought to leave the main character, reader, and author with lasting emotional scars. Otherwise it probably isn’t worth reading.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how most authors become insane.

I discovered early on that if you’re totally confident in your storytelling capabilities, you most likely shouldn’t be. Approaching a novel or a story with humility is the first step in learning to identify weak spots and lousy characters. You’ll probably develop some sort of an inferiority complex when it comes to creative writing; and the worst part is, the writing is so bad at first that it isn’t a complex, it’s legitimate embarrassment.

Despite computer crashes, the loss of an important notebook, and several bouts of intense hopelessness, I finished the story. Now I hate it and never want to speak to it again. After talking to a few other writers, I learned that this too is normal.

To be a writer, you write. In a way, I was right that finishing a story would mean “fabulousness.”

Your first essay wasn’t perfect; your first sentence wasn’t either. Most first novels are the stuff of nightmares, and not because they’re horror stories. Communicating, storytelling, and writing all get better with practice.

And now: on to the second novel. Some of us are just gluttons for punishment. It probably has something to do with our brilliant insanity.

NASA announces radical step forward, is met with opposition

NASA press conference revealing the agency's official and controversial switch to Starfleet uniforms.

NASA press conference revealing the agency’s official and controversial switch to Starfleet uniforms.

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday afternoon that the agency is “moving forward” by officially switching to Star Trek’s Starfleet Next Generation uniforms.

 

Bolden says, “NASA has brought innovation, growth, and scientific advancement to the world—and beyond—for decades. I believe that this is one more important step to the future.”

 

Supporters cite NASA’s numerous achievements and inventions, including improvements in water filters and the moon landing, but opponents suspect that there has been an underground lobbying deal with a cosplay corporation.

 

Original Series Star Trek fans are frustrated by the decision, after many years of lobbying for their own cause; Doctor Who fans are perplexed and objected, pointing out the need for long, colorful scarves. Tea Party leaders who support NASA are calling the latter group “unpatriotic limeys.”

 

“Progress always meets its opponents,” President Obama said, affirming Bolden’s decision, “Flat-earthers are going to oppose every inch of forward progress that our administration makes, including this.”

 

Meanwhile, congressmen are splitting on the issue. Some are sticking to their promises of fiscal limitations and claiming that new uniforms on such a large scale are unnecessary, while others are whole-heartedly embracing the idea.

 

“I think it’ll meet with some stiff opposition, and it’s quite probable that some right-wing fringes in the House will oppose it because of the costs—which are quite minute really—and I’m catching wind of some heavy, heavy disagreements on the left. Reid claims that he’s a diehard fan of the Original Series and can’t stand Picard,” Political analyst and Star Trek fan Kirk LaForge explained, “But all in all, if no lawsuits are filed and no bills submitted, it could remain in place. As I hope it will.”

Of Trolls and Belligerence: A Truthful Satire

The instrument of trolls. (Well, yeah, and other people too.)

The instrument of trolls. (Well, yeah, and other people too.)

If you’ve ever mustered the courage to venture into the “comments” section of a YouTube video, you surely know how truly treacherous it can be.

If you haven’t…well…I advise against it.  You see, the perusing of particularly putrid postings has many discomforting and somewhat horrifying side effects, including but not limited to: nausea, vomiting, depression, decreased brain cells, increased hemorrhoidal activity, and the complete loss of hope for humanity.

Though I’ve never quite set keyboard into this magical place of profanity and logical fallacies, I have observed, studied, and documented many of the creatures that inhabit it.

The documentation of a few of these creatures and their behavior is as follows and may be used as a guideline for combating those that dare conflict you.

The Troll.  I start with the troll as it is, sadly, the most common of all beasts.  It secretes sarcasm as a fish secretes slime.  It writhes in it.  It feeds on the attention it receives from its most likely uber-controversial comment.  Remember, when (not if) you stumble upon a troll, you must resist the immediate urge to unleash your wrath upon it.  Don’t feed the trolls.

The Grammar Nazi.  The Grammar Nazi lurks in only the darkest corners of the comments section, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims that have sealed their own fates by making simple grammatical and spelling errors.  I believe these to be a subspecies of trolls as they have similar preying tactics and feeding habits.  Most of these mongrels see themselves as if they were on a grammatical jihad to purge the world of those that butcher the English language.  Should one ever cross your path, the safest defense is to ignore it. However, if you can lure it into its own trap (which shouldn’t be entirely difficult as most are millennials that don’t know a preposition from a fuzzy lump of dog crud) this will catch it quite off guard.

The Anti-Patriot. These good-fer-nuthin’ varmints, as I affectionately call them, will tell you anything and everything that’s wrong with America (whether you asked for it or not).  No matter what the original content pertained to, these freedom-hating vermin will distort it to fit their ideology. I once spotted one trying to say that the entire state of Georgia was inhabited by overweight people.  This was because “Macon” (a town in Georgia) sounds a great deal like “bacon” and it figured that was a good enough case.  I promptly choked on my cheerios.  The best defense is just to throw out a few facts, it’ll often leave without another word.

The Potty-Mouth.  This is a particularly hostile animal who’s personality quite resembles a dimwitted mule.  You see, it rarely has a real (much less valid) argument, rather, it just flaunts its ability to make a lumberjack blush.  It uses excessive profanity and insults as an attempt get its otherwise dull or baseless point across.  Despite all of this, its kind consists almost entirely of boys between the ages of nine and thirteen, rendering them mostly harmless.  The easiest way to rid them of your presence, should you wish not to have an incredibly foul comment thread, is simply to block them.  They’re just not worth your time.

These were just four of the more common blood-boiling ignoramuses that reveal their stupidity whilst chattering about on a keyboard.  And this just barely scratches the surface of internet ignorance.

Obama’s Anti-Personality Cult

obama face

A great deal has been said about the personality cults of famous politicians, and Obama’s is as good an example as any. Obamamania is the term coined for unquestioning, naïve support of the nation’s 44th president. And for the past seven or so years, plenty of conservatives have been decrying it.

 

They talk about Obama energy, Obamanation, and the Obama economy; they find as many terrible pictures of the man as possible*; they try to prove that he’s responsible for all the activities of the Democratic Party. They grumble about his wife’s healthy food hypocrisy; they snidely insist that leaders should never play “that much golf”; they poke fun at his history of eating dogs.

 

In other words, a disturbing portion of the right wing has taken to slamming the man himself and not his ideals, morals, religion, or policies.

 

Yes, these conservatives are right in some capacity: he fully supports big, intrusive government and is therefore a deplorable proponent of tyranny. As President, Obama has done loads of damage.  Yes, in politics such attacks are normal and within the rights of those who initiate them.

 

But focusing solely on this one man doesn’t improve the ideological situation in the United States—he’s just one man among millions. As soon as he’s gone, another will take his place.

 

These attacks and complaints, the anti-charisma and anti- magnetism, are never enough to ultimately change the scene of American politics or to do anything except foster dislike of one particular man.

 

However, killing his ideas of tyranny and government control would bring permanent change. Conservatives should be fighting an ideological battle, not a personal one. Men are mortal, ideas are eternal: fighting the former and ignoring the latter is a recipe for disaster.

 

Tearing down an individual and creating an anti-personality cult takes less short-term effort than putting together a logical argument and explaining it to millions of people, but it also has very few short-term benefits.

 

It’s essentially like a Kleenex box—if one is finally yanked out, another pops up. Using a flame-thrower on the whole box, however, might yield more positive results.

 

Obama’s popularity has suffered because of the conservatives’ attacks, but his ideology hasn’t.

 

Conservatives, find something better to rally against than Obama. Or better yet, find something to rally together for. Liberty would be a great place to start.

 

 

Note: finding unflattering pictures of your political opponents is fine. I do it all the time. But a bad picture isn’t your ultimate goal.
 

The Choice is Yours

I think one of my favorite movies of the year was How to Train your Dragon 2. After all, it came out near my birthday, so I had fun watching it then. Yes, I realize that I warned against sequels. That bias continues to stand. But there are some exceptions, and those are the best.

In the movie, Hiccup isn’t a confused boy anymore, but almost an adult. His dad is preparing to hand the leadership of the island over to him. But Hiccup would rather pursue his dream of discovering and cataloging new islands and dragons. He confided his frustration with his father in Astrid, his first friend. “That’s his thing. It’s not me.”

But a villain is on the loose, someone who threatens to destroy everything they hold dear. Unfortunately, this only makes the wedge between father and son larger. Stoick is determined to fortify Berk as much as possible and prepare for an attack. But Hiccup disagrees. “We can’t just wait for him to attack.” He persists. “We can change his mind.” Stoick, however, is firm. “A man like that can’t be reasoned with.”

Hiccup disobeys his father and ends up getting into trouble. He continues to protest that he has to try and change the villain’s mind. Eventually, he gets his chance. But he soon realizes that his peacekeeping skill wasn’t as strong as he thought, and someone gets hurt.

Hiccup

The problem is, who was right? One person said that people can’t change, and another said that they can. “If I could change your mind,” Hiccup explains to his father, once a dedicated enemy to all dragons, “I can change his.” But both of Hiccup’s parents tell him the same thing. “There’s no talking to Drago.” His mother laughed. “Some people don’t change.”

While I could go on with the movie forever, I really do have a point to all this. The question of a person’s ability to change his nature has been debated for years. Can people change? I mean, what on earth does it mean?

To get into this, I should explain both sides of this argument. The father, being older, believed that people could not be convinced. He had seen this particular man and his nature, and knew that he was not to be trusted. The son was more optimistic. He had mixed success with changing people’s minds through showing them what Dragons were really like, and believed that this new challenge was no different. He assumed that inwardly, this ‘Drago’ person could be changed, because all people are reasonable on the inside, right?

According to most people, a person is essentially good. This leads to the idea that we can get into heaven by our works, because we start out with a clean slate. That’s a cheerful idea, right? Well, it should be, but it’s not.

The problem is, that’s not the way it is. If we believe what the Bible teaches, we have to admit that we don’t start out with a spotless record. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) We are sinful from birth, and it only goes down from there.

The myth about “choosing to do right” is that there is no possibility to do so. When our first parents ate the forbidden fruit, they were promised the ability to know good and evil. Instead, they lost their ability to do good. If we do something, it’s either the wrong thing, or for the wrong reason. Nothing we do is good.

It isn’t until God opens our eyes that we become able to change. It has nothing to do with our ability, but with the heart-change caused by a new life.

But what Stoick’s side of the story? There the lines are blurred a little. It becomes hard for someone like Hiccup, for example, to understand how everyone else was so prejudiced against this certain person, that is, until he saw firsthand how ruthless he was. Unlike his beloved dragons, some of them can’t be changed by kindness.

There will always be the kinds of people who can’t be reasoned with, people who are so wicked they will not be stopped by reasoning or anything other than force. Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood how Hitler couldn’t be stopped by mere talk. They had been talking and talking for years. Nothing happened. Finally, they had to act, and though they failed, they tried.

Of course, there’s the sneaky side effect to not believing people can change that we tend to call prejudice. Another one is misunderstanding. It might be easier to talk it out, but what’s the point? They won’t listen, right?

In the end, both Hiccup and his Father were right, and both were wrong.  Some people choose not to change. Others have a change of heart. But it can be hard to tell which one it’s going to be until you meet the person.

Here’s a tip, Hiccup. Even when it feels wrong, you should always listen to your Dad. It just works out better that way.