Don’t Believe Your Eyes

Get your optical illusions here.


Letter of the Day

Finally, a religious person says something positive about sex. This is from today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Responsible Sex Occurs in Marriage

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Tammie Smith’s article, “A Choice to Live or Die,” presented earnest faces of youth, honoring those who have died from AIDS, but left out an important element of this “choice” for life.

These earnest youth need to hear the message that responsible sexual behavior situates sexual expression within committed, permanent relationships. Chastity is a virtue that can develop a person’s authentic maturity and guide his or her sexual instinct in the service of genuine, committed love. A choice to live can be made through the practice of the virtue of chastity.

The principal message that begins this article suggests that “safe sex” is an acceptable norm for adolescents. Safe sex separates sexuality from the whole person. Sexuality, understood as a gift from God, expressed in the context of committed love, provides for the deepest enrichment of the human person.

As a Catholic parent of a 20-year old son, I want my son to learn and live by an ethic that reserves sexual expression for lifelong, faithful, and committed relationships. Why? Because this God-given gift of sexuality is more than a bodily function that must be protected in order to avoid the consequence of AIDS.

All youth deserve guidance that directs their self-awareness and development toward wholeness. Human sexuality is a gift to be “protected” through self-respect, self-restraint, and mature commitment. Emily Filippi, Associate Director, Office of Christian Formation, Catholic Diocese of Richmond. richmond.

The Tale of the Thirteen Wizards

Not so long ago, there were thirteen wizards from thirteen parallel dimensions, each with the desire to rule the world. Each had written a book. The book was to be used to govern the many great lands of the world and the people would abide by the words written in the book. However, only one book could be used. There were, instead, thirteen separate books. So, the most powerful of the wizards told the others, “Using none of our powerful magic, we will draw straws. The shortest will go first and so on until the longest straw, who will go last. Each of us will go, one by one, to the Throne of Empire, where the Book of Law will lie. Each of us will set down our book onto the throne. The book that remains on the throne when we have all set ours down will become the Book of Eternal Law.”

The other wizards contemplated this suggestion. None said anything for a moment. Then, each agreed. The plan seemed fair.

So, the twelve less-powerful wizards and the one very powerful wizard drew straws and when they had all found their order by the drawing, each wizard entered into the Room of the Throne of Empire, one by one. Each carried his enormous book that he intended to become the Book of Eternal Law.

The first wizard walked to the throne and set down his book in the seat of the throne, centered perfectly – he pressed it firmly into the crimson red cushion for extra measure. Then, he left the room, intoning an incantation that the book might stay.

The second wizard walked into the Room of the Throne of Empire and removed the first wizard’s book, tossing it aside with ease onto the marble floor and placed his own book on the seat instead. He, too, left the room uttering a magic spell to ensure that his book would be the one left on the throne.

The wizards, in succession, followed this form, until only the most powerful was left, for he had, by no small coincidence, drawn the longest straw. He walked into the Room of the Throne of Empire, saw eleven books scattered over the marble floor and the twelfth sitting on the seat of the throne. He took the twelfth book and tossed it effortlessly to the floor to join the others.

When the other wizards returned to the throne room, they were aghast. How had this happened? They watched as the thirteenth wizard placed his thirteenth book onto the seat of the throne, firmly centering it, and, as did all the other wizards, he pressed his book firmly into the crimson red cushion for extra measure.

As he did, the seat of the throne gave way, for the books were exceedingly heavy, each and every one being heavier than the last. Suddenly, the Throne of Empire burst into flames.

The most powerful wizard chuckled to himself as the flames engulfed the thirteen books. Then, he and the twelve other wizards vanished in a puff of smoke, returning to the dimensions from whence they came.

And so that is why, to this day, there is no eternal law in the land.

No Pity For the Majority

In theory, no one likes taxes. The reason? It’s our money. We want to spend it on us. We don’t want the government spending it on things that we don’t agree with. Republicans in Virginia can breathe a sigh of relief. Their taxes will go to things they want. They’re in control of the legislature and very well may be in charge of the Governor’s Office as well after the next election. So, what’s the problem? If you run the government, can assign how the money is spent, wouldn’t you be glad to pool your money through paying taxes to go to the things you want? No, you wouldn’t.

You see, most Republican legislators are wealthy individuals who apparently don’t need to pool their money to accomplish anything. These well-off people simply want to make sure they don’t have to pay to enrich anyone else’s life. Virginia’s staunch no-tax Republicans apparently don’t think government is all that great to begin with and would rather see those who would need to pool their resources to accomplish anything have to suffer. Need education? Tough. Need good roads? Too bad. Build your own. Need social service? Oh well. Better luck in your next life. God must not have smiled on you.

A Few Thoughts on ‘Working’

Most conflicts boil down to arguments over style. Style of work is one that comes up often. Some people don’t think you’re ‘working’ unless you have your face plastered to a computer screen all day. Others don’t consider it ‘working’ unless your face is covered with a grimace and sweat is beading up on your forehead. We have a society filled with sadists and masochists. It’s not work unless there’s pain. I think we can do better than that.

Recipe Against the Flu

Here’s a concoction posted on Moby’s tour diary. Moby is the bald guy who does the electronica music. He’s famous and what-not. Anyway, here’s his recipe:

Take a thumb-sized piece of ginger and chop it into bits and put the bits in a mug.

Do the same with 2 cloves of garlic.

Pour boiling water over the ginger and garlic.

Add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Let steep for 5-10 minutes.

Strain out the ginger and garlic bits.

Drink the liquid.

Moby says, “It is very, very, hard to drink but very, very, good for you and will boost your immune system more than just about anything else.”

Quote of the Day

“Am I saying that critics of the war aren’t patriotic?

Not at all–I’m a critic of some aspects of the war. What I’m saying is that those who try to paint the bleakest, most anti-American, and most anti-Bush picture of the war, whose purpose is not criticism but deception in order to gain temporary political advantage, those people are indeed not patriotic. They have placed their own or their party’s political gain ahead of the national struggle to destroy the power base of the terrorists who attacked Americans abroad and on American soil.

Patriots place their loyalty to their country in time of war ahead of their personal and party ambitions. And they can wrap themselves in the flag and say they “support our troops” all they like–but it doesn’t change the fact that their program is to promote our defeat at the hands of our enemies for their temporary political advantage.”

–Orson Scott Card, Wall Street Journal

Metaphor of the Day

“We’re like the Saber-toothed Tiger sinking into the tar pit. And over on dry land are a few giraffes munching away on some leaves. And we’re taunting them with what terms we’re going to give them to buy into the good thing we’ve got going on.”

–Joshua Michah Marshall, regarding the Bush Administration’s stance on not opening contracts to bids from companies that reside in countries like France, Germany and Russia, that did not support our war on Iraq from the outset.

The truth is – most corporations that would be able to help us in Iraq are so large that they reside in multiple countries and have no particular loyalty to any one of them.

Today’s Thoughts on Human Resources and Management

In order for Human Resources to play a significant role in an organization’s management structure, the organization has to acknowledge that Human Resources has such a role. Unfortunately, in many government agencies internal politics determines practice more so than sound management principles. Official ‘policy’ can be skewed to reflect the desires of powerful personalities in the organization that desire certain outcomes. Human Resources, unless it is led by an equally strong personality, can only sit on the sidelines and, essentially, ‘rubber stamp’ decisions.

On the one hand, this power of personalities is a natural part of any organization run by people. It’s human nature. On the other hand, an organization lessens its effectiveness when it allows personalities to substitute for sound policies and sound practices. Leadership must strive for a consistent approach to handling matters that affect employees.

Human Resources stands between management and the employee. Human Resources must act as a guide to management at the same time that it acts as a communication point for employees. There is a balancing act that Human Resources must perform – on one side, the personalities and power of management – on the other side, the concerns and rights of employees.

The root problem is that managers do not view themselves as employees themselves. They see themselves as part of an elite group that stands above. Instead of seeing their responsibility as stewards, they see their power as masters. Too often, even when benevolent, managers see their role as shepherds herding sheep rather than people empowering other people to reach their potential.

Return of the Blog

Recent events:

My niece, Haley, is in the hospital with the flu.

The tree in the neighbor’s to the rear of us that was leaning against our fence since Hurricane Isabel fell during the ice storm Saturday night.

Our heat pump ceased functioning.

My place of business got up and moved four or five blocks down the hill closer to the James River.

Guess which of the above is good news.