While reading FARK.com I came across this darling little article about a recently published piece by Mary Tedeschi Eberstadt titled, “How the West Really Lost God”. Surmise to say the conclusion she has drawn, specifically, that the decline in fertility is the result of secularization, could very well be true. Her argument and the logic she uses, however, needs a makeover. According to Gerald Owen of the National Post, “she argues that the experience of becoming parents opens up human beings to a richer consciousness of what is beyond themselves, and thus to religious belief.” And thus to religious belief? Let’s see, both my mother and father were secular and I am but one of eight children. Granted, I could be the exception to the rule, but I don’t believe so. Personally, becoming a parent myself certainly didn’t “open myself up to religious belief.” In fact, I’m often angered at the thought that my son will have to grow up in a world currently ruled by religious zealots. To say the least, the article is an interesting five to ten minute read and might be worth SEB’s time. Cheers.
While reading FARK.com I found the story below. While not exactly a major news item it still bothers me. My wife and I are an interracial couple, our son Aidan is as pale as Casper’s ass and aside from his nose, he doesn’t look as though he is my wife’s biological son so we often hear comments about how wonderful it was for my wife to adopt my son as her own; ad nauseum. If not something similar, my wife is also the subject of a number of rude comments from members of the African American community who have accused her of “betraying her race” and some people have even told her she needs to “stay in the race”. The point being, I’ve come to the conclusion that while race does sometimes play a factor in life, its influence is no where near as widespread as it’s been argued. I won’t ruin the article, surmise to say that I think its a total crock of shit, but I would appreciate a different perspective.
I recently returned from leave in Texas where I was introduced to an alarming concept, the Megachurch. I was invited to attend the ceremony by a long time friend and although I had no interest given that I am an atheist, I thought it might be a way to kill a Sunday morning with a friend who I hadn’t seen in quite some time and I felt obliged to indulge his fantasy that I might convert from a godless heathen to a Evangelical “Warrior of Jesus”.
Anyway, after the ceremony was through and I said goodbye to my friend, I went to the first Barnes & Noble to see if I could find anything about the Megachurch. Although I was frightened by the experience, and possibly scarred, I was still intrigued. The commercialism of McDonald’s, the casual attire of the GAP crowd, the sheer mass of the audience both worried and confused me. As it turns out, I was able to find a hilarious book by Robert Lanham called, appropriately enough, “The Sinner’s Guide to The Evangelical Right”. I casually read a few pages, had a laugh or two, and thought it would be a good read for the long flight home to Sicily.
Well, after I finished reading and washing the remaining bile from my mouth (I laughed so hard I puked), I began thinking, “why hasn’t anyone said something before?” Finally, it dawned on me, no one cared. Well, to be more precise, it wasn’t that no one cared, it was that no one cared enough. Well, for some time now I’ve been looking for something I could do to make my mark on society. Something I could really work at and try and better both myself and those around me, and I found the answer in a non-profit. For years now, Megachurches have flourished under the shelter of tax-exemption. They’ve raked in millions per year without giving back to their respective communities and have enjoyed the endorsement of both the IRS and the Federal Government in lavishing their leadership with six-figure-salaries and homes worth millions.
For instance, Creflo Dollar of the Christian World Changers Ministries in Georgia flies to New York on a weekly basis in his private jet to seek donations from his congregation. To add insult to injury, the majority of his congregation comes from the poorest of the five burrows and his Ministry’s Outreach programs in the region are practically non-existent. As the head of the church and its five divisions, including Arrow Records, Dollar stands to gain from every penny donated to the church. Were this an isolated incident, it would be criminal, given that in Texas alone there are over 150 such Megachurches, and that Rick Warren’s Ministry in California took in a record 7 million in donations during a single Sunday, all while enjoying tax exemption, this is fraud of the worst variety.
With that in mind, several associates of mine and I have begun work on a non-profit organization, and I hate to pander, but given the nature of the SEB Community, I thought it best to appeal for support here first. Consider this a compliment. As for my request, I would appreciate any advice or expertise in web design, marketing, and research in the fields of tax law (including exemption), and the so-called “Megachurch Society”.
Surmise to say, several associates of mine and I are currently forming a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to expose the Megachurches of the United States for what they truly are; corporations operating under a thin veneer of religious imagery in order to exploit their congregations and the tax exemption laws of the United States. We’ve managed to secure a website which will be forthcoming as soon as our design is finalized and we hope to secure our status as a non-profit should the need arise. However, we lack a support network. We have recruited several volunteers willing to help us in marketing and research as well as staff writers, a photographer, webmaster, and legal aid. Given their voluntary status, however, we still need the support of anyone willing to help. If you would like more information, or should you have any advice or expertise you are willing to lend, please feel free to e-mail myself at .
Normally, I would post some sort of news item for discussion or something of the sort, but recently, I’ve been made aware of certain troubling events back home which I thought might interest the SEB Community. It concerns PTSD and the military’s solution to the disorder.
Prior to his arrival in Iraq, my brother Justin was an exemplary Marine. He was never late for drill, nor did he receive any form of disciplinary measures. In point of fact, he was even commended for preventing the rape of a fellow Marine while he was on watch during his MOS School. In the summer of 2004, his unit was activated and he was promptly shipped to California prior to his departure for Fallujah. Shortly after his arrival there, the Marines stormed the city in what was to become one of the single largest offensives of the war. While there, he was both witness to and a participant in a great many terrible things. To this day he will not speak of what he did while there. Any information myself or my family has received of his actions came from members of his unit who credited him with 25 confirmed enemy kills and a commendation for his work while in country from his Unit Commander. When he returned to Texas, however, he had changed. He became apprehensive and, at times, violent and unpredictable. He fast became an alcoholic and couldn’t hold down a job. To add insult to injury, he was so severely traumatized by his experiences in Iraq that he now hides from members of his unit and once curled into the fetal position and began to cry when he heard the sound of a helicopter over the house. Unfortunately, he is not the only veteran who suffers from this disorder. A number of Marines from his unit have been discharged from the service with an unfavorable discharge code because of their behavior. Justin is no exception. This February, he will be subjected to non-judicial punishment where his Unit Commander is expected to demote him to private and recommend that he be given a discharge under other than honorable conditions. Granted, his behavior would normally warrant such a punishment as he is guilty of what he has been accused. He has been absent from scheduled drill 20 consectutive times. However, his previous service and the military’s refusal to recognize his condition as a legitimate form of mental illness is sickening. Under current directives, he will be stripped of any benefits gained through military service, including healthcare through the VA. Were this a case of a single Marine under these circumstances, it would be terrible. Given that almost twenty Marines from Justin’s unit have suffered the same fate is unforgiveable. As his brother, I was made fully aware of his intentions prior to joining the Marine Corps. He had a desire to join so that he could receive enough training and pay to start his own business as a diesel engine mechanic. He had no desire to deploy and yet he went without question and now he is permanently scarred by his experiences. Add to that the military’s answer for “dealing” with troubled veterans and we’ve a situation that must be dealt with. I am in the process of transferring back to Texas and hopefully I will have an opportunity to testify on his behalf, but I can only hope that my transfer comes in time.
What are your thoughts?
In my time as a Police Officer, I’ve seen quite a few assaults. Personally, I was always surprised and sometimes truly amazed at just how ingenious people can be when they intend to batter one another. For instance, I’ve seen a shoe become a weapon as well as a carrot, a half-empty soda can, an envelope stuffed with metal change, and I’ve even seen a two-headed dildo fight end with stitches. However, never before was I truly disgusted with—or even mildly upset with—a man or woman’s choice of weapon until I read the article below. Did our lovely little malcontent use a knife? No! Did she use her purse? No! Did she use her four-week-old baby? Ding ding ding…..we have a WINNER! That’s right folks, assault with an infant. I have to admit, I thought I had seen everything when I watched a man throw a very pissed off pit-bull at someone, but this is definitely something new.
In the Law Enforcement community, we stress that deadly force is a ALWAYS a last resort. In point of fact, we have what is known as a Force Continuum or Ladder of Force which we follow precisely. Verbal Commands, Physical Apprehension and Restraint Techniques, Handcuffs, Riot Control Agents, Police Baton, Military Working Dogs, Other DoD Approved Non-lethal Weapons, and finally, Firearms. Of course, we can skip steps if need be. After all, we are an entirely reactive force. You fuck with us, well, stand by to stand by.
Anyway, there was a radio adverstisement that seems to have caused quite an uproar in Houston these past couple of weeks and although I believe deadly force should be a last resort, I support the broadcasters opinion. The article can be found here and to put a finer point on it, it is about an advertisement from a Houston Gunshop Owner who appealed to Houston residents to arm themselves against Hurrican Katrina Evacuees.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t support such a move, but given the rise in the Houston crime rate since their arrival and the startling fact that Katrina victims were involved in almost 1/5 of the homicides in Houston last year, well, I support the man. Not only that, there is an interview cited which states that an evacuee went on record to say that if his government checks didn’t continue, he would most likely become a criminal. The article is a good read and I suggest you check it out if you have the time.
Recently we received an intelligence report which was disseminated at a command level about Jihadist groups accessing and using Myspace as a possible means for recruiting jihadists in the United States and Europe. The report took note of those profiles which had been created in jest and those which had a more serious tone. Of those which were priority, several members had kept blogs about suicide, antisemitism, etc. It was interesting to note that most, approximately 75% of those mentioned belonged to young African-Americans in the tri-state area who were or want to become active members in the Nation of Islam. Given the nature of myspace, and the web-savvy community found here, I would think it would be interesting to see how many SEB regulars could infiltrate these groups and use their contacts within them to gather information for the authorities. Several of my shipmates and I have already begun the slow process of gaining their trust, but I think this represents a unique opportunity for those outside the Law Enforcement community to do their part in helping stop what could very well be an imminent threat to our national security. I’d like to know what you think.
That’s right folks, “Scotty”, the chief engineer aboard the USS Enterprise, died Wednesday. Granted, some might say we shouldn’t morn his passing as he was only an actor but he was, in reality, much more. A WWII veteran, James Doohan joined the Canadian Army just prior to the outbreak of war and even landed at Juno Beach as an artillery lieutenant with the first assault wave. He and his unit fought their way up the beach and through an anti-tank minefield were he was later machine-gunned taking six hits: four in the leg, one severing his right middle finger(which he managed to hide onscreen), and one to the chest which was stopped only by his silver cigarette case. Pretty cool huh? Anyway, it sucks that he’s dead and I thought he deserved more than just a blip on the news.
Found this online when I was bored on shift so I thought I’d send it along. With any luck, it will be a big hit. Sadly, that’s unlikely. Oh well.
On the 20th September a car with an air-compressed engine, invented by the Frenchman Guy Nègre, will be presented in London. The presentation will take place at 10 am in the Millennium Hotel (17 Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, London SW1). The aim of the event is to present MDI´s technology to the public before its imminent arrival on the market and to offer to businessmen and institutions the chance to take part in establishing the factories in the UK.
One of the many challenges of today’s society is maintaining our lifestyle with minimal repercussions to the environment. This is why Guy Nègre has invented a “zero pollution” car which involves no combustion.
The MDI car can reach a speed of 68 mph and has a road coverage of roughly 124 miles -some 8 hours of travel- which is more than double the road coverage of an electric car. When recharging the tank, the car needs to be connected to the mains (220V) for 3 to 4 hours or attached to an air pump in a petrol station for only 2 minutes.
Economy and the ecological benefits are the main advantages for the client since the car´s maintenance cost is 10 times less than that of a petrol-run car, costing 1 pound for the car to travel for up to 8 hours or to cover 124 miles in an Urban area.
How does it work?
90m3 of compressed air is stored in fibre tanks. The expansion of this air pushes the pistons and creates movement. The atmospheric temperature is used to re-heat the engine and increase the road coverage. The air conditioning system makes use of the expelled cold air. Due to the absence of combustion and the fact there is no pollution, the oil change is only necessary every 31.000 miles.
At the moment, four models have been made: a car, a taxi (5 passengers), a Pick-Up truck and a van. The final selling price will be approximately 5.500 pounds.
“Moteur Development International” (MDI) is a company founded in Luxembourg, based in the south of France and with its Commercial Office in Barcelona. MDI has researched and developed the Air Car over 10 years and the technology is protected by more than 30 International patents.
MDI´s expansion has just begun and they have already signed 50 factories in Europe, America and Asia. The company is offering 20 licences in the UK as exclusive manufacturing areas for cars as well as offering other licences in the nautical and public transport sectors.
It is predicted that the factory will produce 3.000 cars each year, with 70 staff working only one 8-hour shift a day. If there were 3 shifts some 9.000 cars could be produced a year.
MDI is undertaking a long-term franchise business. The graphs show an important profit margin, which will be increased by the subsequent exclusive spare-parts market.
You can find more information on the Web page: http://www.theaircar.com or telephone +34 93 362 37 00