Jan

27

Posted by : Brian | On : January 27, 2014

In my recent post “Are you pro-life? Are you sure?”, I wrote all about how we need to celebrate life. In fact, in the summarizing paragraph I wrote:

“Be pro-life. Be for life. Celebrate life. ALL LIFE.”

So now I’m doing a different post and titling it “Celebrating Death.” Interesting…

At the beginning of the year, my grandfather passed away at the age of 79. He was in very poor health and for the last five or six years, every Christmas season was “probably our last Christmas with Grandpa.” Turns out that it became true for Christmas 2013. At our annual family Christmas gathering, my grandparents were unable to make it because of his health, so we went to visit them at their home after the party. It was clear that Grandpa was not doing well and my first comment to Keri when we got the car was “He needs to go.”

10 days later, he did just that. In peace. Surrounded by his family.

The next two weeks consisted of preparing for the funeral and reminiscing about Grandpa’s life – much of which I knew nothing about. I got to go through old pictures with my mom and grandma and listen to stories about him as a child, as a worker, as a husband, and as a father. The stories were not told with frowns and tears, but with smiles and laughter.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? – 1 Corinthians 15:55

To Death: Seriously, though. Answer the question. What power can you possibly possess over Christians? We have hope in this life as well as hope in eternal life. A physical death can only end one life to bring us into eternal life.

To the reader: I have to admit, the title of this post is false. It was a ploy to get you to click on it. Sorry. We do not celebrate death. We celebrate life. We celebrate life on earth, and we celebrate life after death.

And that’s exactly what we did at Grandpa’s graveside service as well as his funeral. We rejoiced in his life here on earth and the memories that we all had with him. More importantly, we celebrated and continue to celebrate his eternal life spent in the presence of God.

Love you Papa. See you soon.

Jan

27

Posted by : Brian | On : January 27, 2014

TheCaseForGold

In my ongoing pursuit of reading more, I finished another book. I actually finished this one a few weeks ago, but I am just now getting to posting about it.

If you’re looking for an exciting, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat type book – this is not it. Only so much excitement can come from looking at the world’s history of monetary policy. That’s what 3/4 of this book is – a history book. The Case for Gold is actually a reprint of a report given by the U.S. Gold Commission in 1982 (a commission that Ron Paul started).

If thinking about reading a U.S. Gold Commission report from 30 years ago doesn’t fire up your adrenaline synapses, then I don’t know what will.

I have no idea if “adrenaline synapses” are a real thing. I made it up.

Being new to the world of monetary systems and real vs. fiat money, I’ll admit that this book was above my head, but that’s not always a bad thing. As I learn more elementary facts about money systems, economics, and the gold standard, I will have a framework for where each of those things fit it.

The last quarter of this book is the part that I enjoyed most, and if you do end up reading this book, don’t put it down until you get to this part. This last section turns away from the historical aspect and gets into the “how”s and “why”s of getting back onto the gold standard. This covers a more basic explanation of the gold standard and the methods that can be taken in order to return to a system that protects consumer value rather than runaway inflation.

They say you don’t really know something until you’re able to teach it. Well, I still can’t teach you, so I guess that’s means I have some more learning to do.

You can purchase The Case For Gold here, or you can borrow my copy.

Jan

24

Posted by : Brian | On : January 24, 2014

This is a parody, right?

RIGHT?

Oh, it’s not. Of course it’s not.

The things that constitute “news” these days is staggering to me.

Jan

24

Posted by : Brian | On : January 24, 2014

Awhile back I posted about attending a gun control information forum (debate) between 4 of the political student organizations on campus. In that post, I summed up what I believed the 4 positions would say specifically about the 2nd amendment:

College Republicans: The 2nd amendment was designed so that citizens could protect themselves from bad guys.

Socialist Alternative: THE 2ND AMENDMENT WAS DESIGNED FOR THE WHITE MAN TO OPPRESS THE SLAVES AND IT SHOULD BE ABOLISHED! CAPITALISM IS BAD!!

Young Democrats at UW: The 2nd amendment was designed so that Americans could keep single shot, muzzle-loading muskets locked in a safe with a trigger lock. There’s no real purpose behind it.

Young Americans for Liberty: The 2nd amendment was designed so that citizens could fight off a tyrannical government.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I agree with the Young Americans for Liberty on this one. The gun control debate far too often surrounds itself with statistics about how many people are shot every year due to gun violence or how many people defend their homes with a firearm. That is all well and good and it is a very important discussion to have, but to argue that the 2nd amendment’s purpose is to protect yourself from home intruders or from the mugger down the back alley is simply false.

When you watch the Piers Morgan’s, the Chris Matthews’, the Rachel Maddows’, and (unfortunately) the Jon Stewart’s of the media, it’s absurd that civilians would ever use arms against a government. In fact, several of these liberal commentators have made jokes about it being a social fantasy of right wing extremists to start a revolution through the use of arms. Remember, the government IS the people (or so they say).

The use of arms against government tyranny is not some abstract fantastical-hypothetical paranoia-ful situation that really isn’t something we need to worry about. I can think of 2 clear cut cases in American history where it has been used for that very purpose. (Hint: One started the country and one is the title of the post)

The first one you hopefully know something about. The American Revolutionary War was people using arms against government tyranny. In a sense, this was a civil war. The “Americans” were at war with their own government. But this is not the point of this post.

This next example is.

Very few people know about the Battle of Athens in 1946. It happened in McMinn County, Tennessee (Were you thinking Greece?). Over the past few elections (beginning in 1936), McMinn County had been investigated for fraud and political corruption in the county elections. A man by the name of Paul Cantrell was the Democratic candidate for sheriff and was elected in 1936, 1938, and 1940 elections. In the next two elections (1942 and 1944), he was elected to the state senate while his former deputy, Pat Mansfield, was elected to sheriff.

Then comes 1946.

Oh wait, wait, wait…we forgot about 1945. What happened then? WWII ended and a bunch of soldiers came home from war. There were about 3,000 that returned to McMinn County. That’s important

Ok. NOW comes 1946.

In the 1946 elections, Paul Cantrell was running for sheriff again and Pat Mansfield was now running for state senate – they were determined to win. Unfortunately for them, some of these soldiers returning from the war decided to run against them on the platform of fraud-fee elections and the end of political corruption. At a rally, one of the GI speakers is quoted as saying:

“The principles that we fought for in this past war do not exist in McMinn County. We fought for democracy because we believe in democracy but not the form we live under in this county.

August 1, 1946 – election day. While the polls were open, about 200 armed deputies turned out to patrol the precincts. This was odd as the usual number was approximately 15. Deputies decided to close the polls early and confiscated the ballot boxes and “count” them at the local jail. Of course, the citizens (veterans, mainly) knew that it would not be an open count and the possibility of the outcome being rigged was extremely likely.

This is tyranny.

The citizens took up their arms and marched to the jail. After being refused the ballot boxes, gunfire was exchanged between the citizens and the 55 deputies that were guarding the jail. Those inside the jail remained in the jail while waiting for backup from the National Guard. Before the National Guard arrived, however, the veterans blew the jail door with dynamite. At that time, the deputies were forced to surrender. The ballot boxes were returned and after having the votes counted, the 5 veterans that had run for office had been elected. Paul Cantrell and Pat Mansfield were unable to fraud their way back into their positions.

The 1992 movie “An American Story” depicts this battle, although minor details are off (as with any true story made into a movie). Here’s the 10 minute scene:

THIS is what the 2nd amendment is about – not about stopping a bad guy from taking your wallet.

Of course that’s important, too.

Jan

18

Posted by : Brian | On : January 18, 2014

It’s official. I’m an outcast.

Today I found out that I have essentially been banished from my own battalion. I am not to be in the building and no one is to have contact with me. I have been “cast-out,” if you will.

Long friendships have been forced to end immediately so that I do not have a negative influence on them. “Negative” here is best described as my own personal convictions that I explicitly told the leadership were my own personal convictions and I had no intention of influencing others to do the same. Apparently this is a bad thing.

It saddens me that it has come to this, but it is more clear to me than ever that following internal beliefs creates foes – and that’s not easy.

I wish more people would become outcasts, not so they can sit in a corner and wallow in self-pity about how nobody likes them, no..

I wish more people would become outcasts so that they can have more meaning in their lives.

I wish more people would become outcasts so they could understand what is important in life.

I wish more people would become outcasts so they can understand the fulfillment of standing up for what you believe.

I wish more people would become outcasts so they could influence others to be outcasts

 

Then who knows… maybe, just maybe, all us outcasts could band together and change the world.

Jan

10

Posted by : Brian | On : January 10, 2014

Disclaimer: This is NOT a New Year’s Resolution. I started January 4th. So there…

I’ve always had a problem with getting in the habit of exercising regularly, because I am lazy…and apathetic (see what I did there?).

I enjoy working out. I especially enjoy right AFTER the workout. It helps me sleep better, makes me want to eat better, and gives me more energy throughout the day. It seems like it would be easy for me to slap my running shoes on and get to the gym or go for a run, right?

Nope.

I’ve started P90X on multiple occasions. I get through about two or three weeks and then I realize I just can’t keep up with the rigorous schedule that is required. If only I could finish, I could have the body of Tony Horton.

With that said, here’s my latest and greatest workout program. Be prepared. It’s rigorous. It’s painful. It’s complicated.

1. Put running shoes on (as Claire would say, “yunnin” shoes)

2. Go outside

Those are literally the only two goals that I have in order to consider my workout a success. That’s it. See, I’ve found that one thing I hate more than beginning a workout (remember, I enjoy it once I start) is doing something for no reason. If I complete only these two goals, the idea of working out is much easier. My thought process usually goes something like this:

Sitting on the couch: “I should put my shoes on now…ugh..”

Get off the couch: “GRAAAAHHHHH!!!!”

Go to closet and grab shoes: “I guess I’m really doing this…”

Sit on couch to put shoes on: “Wow, this couch is comfortable, I guess I could just sit here and…NO!”

Walk outside: Oh, look… a pull up bar.

30-45 minutes later: I’m tired. Good workout.

I haven’t gone a day yet where I haven’t actually worked out just by putting shoes on and going outside. There may come a day where it is late and I really want to lounge around. I may just walk outside, turn around, take my shoes off, and sit on the couch. But it will be a success, and in my mind, that will drive me to complete my goals again the next day, which will probably end up with another workout.

Two goals: put shoes on, go outside.

This is my strategy because I know myself and how apathetic and lazy I am concerning exercising. If I can’t put shoes on and walk outside, then there’s something much deeper that is wrong with me. This also works for me because I know that I’m good once I get going. This will not work for those that would simply walk outside and turn around everyday.

As someone on the internet said: “The hardest lift of all is lifting your butt off the couch.”

Jan

05

Posted by : Brian | On : January 5, 2014

I claim to be a libertarian.

I claim to support a laissez-fair, free market economic system, free from government control and regulation.

I claim that that government intervention makes things worse, not better.

But last November, I made the mistake of throwing all that out the window. You see, a controversial initiative was on the ballot in Washington State. I-522, the mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs) was the talk of the town. Even in the libertarian circle, debates arose about whether we should vote yes or no. I understood the reason for both choices, but I was still a “YesOn522” advocate. It was the only thing I voted “yes” on.

I regret it.

I can claim free market economics all I want, but when it came to a vote, I voted against the free market. [After all, government should be included in nothing – except for what I believe, said every voter ever.] I voted FOR government intervention (gives me the creeps just typing that).

I am heartily against GMOs and especially the crony capitalism that is so heavily associated with them. Companies like Monsanto and Dupont (leading manufacturers of genetically modified crops) are evil and they have governments, local, state, and federal backing them up in their evilness. But why would I think that the same government would fix it?

Stupid me.

The free market will take care of it, right? That was easier said than done for me, hence the “yes” vote. However, yesterday’s news put it all in perspective. Capitalism wins again. General Mills announced that they would begin making Cheerios without genetically modified ingredients. Is this because they believe that GMOs are bad? Nah..probably not. They’re making them because there is a large enough number of consumers that want it.

I believe this to be only the start. Many people do not know or really understand what GMOs are. As they look down the cereal aisle, they will notice a label (one that is voluntarily put on by General Mills, not by government regulation) that says that Cheerios is not made with genetically modified ingredients. Most will probably look into it and begin to demand that other cereals, as well as other foods, be made without GMOs.

Way to go consumers, keep up the good work. Force producers to give you what you want by how you spend your dollars, not by how you vote.

 

Dec

31

Posted by : Brian | On : December 31, 2013

My kids are right in the middle of that stage where they have similar toys, games, stuffed animals, etc.. and always want what the other kid has. This is the “no, I haven’t played with that toy in 3 years, but now that is in your hand, I want it” mentality.

Of course we don’t want to teach our children selfishness, so I guess the right thing to do is to force them to share their toys with the other child. Unfortunately, parents often fail to realize that the child wanting the toy is just as selfish, if not more selfish, than the child that is keeping the toy to herself.

What are we really teaching when we force our children (be it in the home or in the classroom) to share?

To the “unsharer,” it teaches:

1. Hold on to your belongings as tightly as you can until an authority figure tells you otherwise, then begrudgingly give them up.

2. You don’t need to act out of the kindness of your heart, you need to act when others tell you to act.

3. No need to have compassion for others. That is the authority’s job.

To the “wanter,” it teaches: (If this were twitter – #occupywallstreet)

1. You should have what others have.

2. If you’re loud enough – or ask sweetly enough (depending on the parent/teacher) – an authority figure will take from others to give you what you want.

I don’t want my children to learn this. Too many people learn this model as children and it correlates to how they act as adults. Those that have less believe that they can vote to have an authority force those more well off to give them what they want. Those that have more believe that if they have to give of what they have, they should wait until the tax man comes and begrudgingly give it up. Any moral responsibility for others is gone.

I don’t want to raise my children to think that way.

I want my children to think in such a way that they are content with what they have and are happy for those who have more. I want my children to think in such a way that they have the privilege as a Christian, an American citizen, and a fellow human being to willfully and happily give to others.

So girls, you don’t HAVE to share, but it would be nice if you did.

This usually – not always- but usually ends with one sharing with the other. Both remain happy and the sharer has learned and experienced the old adage “sharing is caring.”

Dec

28

Posted by : Brian | On : December 28, 2013

For those that don’t know, or may have bad info due to the rumor mill, my path in life is changing quite drastically soon.

I’ll try to cover as much as I can in the briefest way possible.

Where I’m at now: I’m currently a student at the University of Washington as an active duty Marine in the MECEP program (Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program). The purpose of the program is to send enlisted Marines to college to get their degrees so they can become an officer in the Marine Corps. I was scheduled to graduate and be commissioned in March of this coming year.

During the 2012 elections, I became pretty involved in politics and started to question everything I’ve known about it up to that point. At the beginning of this year, that led me to question America’s involvement overseas, and specifically my role within the armed forces.

As time went on, my conscience began to weigh on me heavily about my personal involvement and I felt like I could not go on to commission and remain in the Marine Corps with a clear conscience. I won’t go into specifics since I am still in.

Anyway, in November I wrote a letter to my Commanding Officer outlining why I could not go on and that I wanted to find a way out if at all possible. I believed that I had three options at that point:

1. Stay in, keep my mouth shut and commission. Do my 6 years, then get out.

2. File for conscientious objector.

3. Disenroll myself from the MECEP program and finish out my current enlistment (ends in May of 2016).

The reason I didn’t choose #1 was because my conscience couldn’t take it. It would be a disservice to the Marine Corps as well as to the Marines that I would be leading. I didn’t choose #2 because I don’t believe I qualify. The Department of Defense states that to file for conscientious objector status, you must be against ALL war, which I am not. So my only real option was to take #3 – a decision that I am pleased with.

That is where I am at right now. I have disenrolled from the MECEP program and I am currently awaiting orders back to my old enlisted job (most likely in North Carolina) and I will spend the next 2-2 1/2 years there until I can get out.

It’s a huge change for us, since we always thought that we would do 20 years in the Marine Corps and retire. It’s a new adventure for us, but we’re excited about the future.

I’m more than happy to discuss specifics, just not here 🙂

Dec

18

Posted by : Brian | On : December 18, 2013

You’re never going to believe this. I actually finished a book.

I know what you’re thinking. “Economics? Sounds….riveting!” Well, no. I don’t think that I could say “riveting” is the right word, but it did keep my attention for the most part.

With my recent decision to leave the Marine Corps at the end of my current enlistment, I’ve been forced to actually look at my future. Crazy, right? I had to go back to the 3rd grade question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” While being an astronaut still sounds intriguing (If only to say that I walked on the moon), it is clearly not my passion. If you know me at all, you know I’m passionate about politics.

If you could wait on the public trial and hanging, that’d be great.

That passion I have leads me to believe that I have a future in politics, so I plan to run for office upon departing the military. I still have 2 1/2 years to go, which may seem like a long time, but it is a relatively short time to prepare myself to run for an elected position. These 2 1/2 years will mostly be spent nailing down principles that I believe to be important for our state and/or country.

Two areas of politics that I am admittedly poor in (for now) are economics and international affairs. Now is the time to fix that – hence the reading of this book. It also ties in nicely with the theme of this blog – apathetic no longer.

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt covers the very basics of economics and dispels many of the current myths and beliefs of economists and politicians today. The opening sentence in the preface is “This book is an analysis of economic fallacies that are at last so prevalent that they have almost become a new orthodoxy.”

Some of the topics Hazlitt covers:
The Broken Window Fallacy
Government Price-Fixing
Minimum Wage Laws Also here and here.
Rent Control
Unions
Inflation
Much, much more…

The book is very easy to read and is intended for newbie economists such as myself. I would highly recommend this book for every person as a citizen, and you could probably stop there (unless you want to go further, which I will). It is clear and concise enough that will help you understand the danger and harm of feel-good laws that are intended to help those in need. Be an informed citizen and voter!

Best of all, you don’t even have to buy it. It’s free right here.