Should you boycott Chick-fil-A?

31 07 2012

You’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy and his views on gay marriage.  It’s sparked a lot of discussion, which is a good thing (if people will actually listen and consider what other people are saying).  I came across an article about it that is well-written and makes some good points.  However, you must keep in mind that this is satire.  Don’t bother reading the comments, because apparently many people don’t know what satire is, and thus miss the whole point of the article.  (Are the commenters really college students?  What are schools teaching kids these days?)

Chick-fil-A deserves to be punished.

I could say a lot about this topic, but the article does it so well (if you properly parse the satire, that is).  The point about full-time shopping with food stamps was one of my favorite parts.

On a related note, why do you suppose so many people struggle to identify satire or humor when discussing important issues?  Could it be because they are so defensive about their beliefs that they (subconsciously) jump at any opportunity to become offended and/or angry?  And if so, why would they be so defensive?  Or is aggressive attacking simply part of their defensive strategy?  Something to think about…

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MPAA president threatening Congress

25 01 2012

Do you suppose it’s bad form to publicly try to blackmail members of Congress on national TV?  The president of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) — himself a former U.S. senator — did so this week.  He’s upset that SOPA and PIPA were rejected after the public backlash.  Here’s the story:

In an interview last week, MPAA President Chris Dodd, a former U.S. senator, threatened to cut off campaign donations to members of Congress who vote against legislation the MPAA supports.

After Congress shelved two controversial Web-censorship bills, Dodd told Fox News: “Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

Free Press Action Fund President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

“The MPAA is so brazen in its efforts to buy legislation with campaign cash that its leader, himself a former senator, sees nothing wrong with threatening legislators on national TV. We think it’s time that Congress showed that its votes are no longer for sale. The first thing Congress must do is give back the MPAA’s tainted campaign cash or give it to charity. Congress must make it clear to the world that it won’t be bullied into supporting censorship.

Being a former senator, Dodd should know about attempts of bribery and corruption.  Ideally there would be a huge public outcry over his statements, because isn’t it obvious he’s trying to buy votes?

A quick word on SOPA and PIPA, in case you haven’t followed them closely.  They were proposed legislation to stop online piracy, which sounds like a good thing.  We do need to cut back piracy.  Everyone is against piracy, against for the criminals who are stealing software, music, and movies.  But the proposed laws went way too far, making almost any service provider on the Internet liable to be prosecuted if someone puts anything illegal on their website.  The problem with that (besides the bankrupting litigation) is that all these sites would have to moderate every single thing posted on their site.  Imagine someone having to watch every single YouTube video before it could be listed, then checking if it could be copyrighted by someone else… it would be near-impossible.  Maybe someday software will be sophisticated enough to do that, but that’s many years away.





the Casey Anthony tragedy – other angles

6 07 2011

I didn’t closely follow the Casey Anthony trial / debacle, because it was so drawn-out and I’m not one to seek entertainment from other people’s lives.  But it was near-impossible to not see or hear about it.  Apparently it was the most news-worthy event, because that’s about the only thing reported on.  (Note the sarcasm.)

The whole situation was a tragedy, like a real-life opera (except without the singing, which might’ve made it better).  There weren’t going to be any real winners among those involved.  The only one who might come out better than before is the defense attorney, although a number of people are going to think he did his job too well (so to speak).  Can you imagine how the grandparents feel?  They were thrown under the bus and repeatedly run over by the defense attorney.  Their reputation has been trashed even more as they were blamed for Caylee’s death, without any evidence.

Anyway, I ended up watching some of the closing statements, because I was visiting people who were watching it.  (By the way, the lawyers’ “closing” took a lot longer than any preachers I’ve heard, who are infamous for “in closing” statements but not really closing yet.)  I was surprised with the results of the jury.  I agree that the death penalty was extreme for this being her first time to allegedly murder someone, so perhaps the prosecution did over-reach.  Still, I have a few questions about it.

How did Casey Anthony not get charged with child neglect / child abuse?  Supposedly her child was missing for 31 days and she didn’t report it but instead was living it up.  Wasn’t that one of the charges?  Even if that’s the only evidence of it, wouldn’t that be enough?

Why was this case so popular?  I realize it involves an innocent child and the details are unusual, but there are other cases like that.  Why did so many people follow this?

It sounds like a lot of people are very upset with the “not guilty” verdict on the murder charges.  I suppose the jury couldn’t completely connect the murder to Casey, but still, justice wasn’t served.  Someone killed Caylee (whether intentionally or not) and then covered it up suspiciously.

Glancing on Facebook to see some reactions, I have to share this insightful quote from one of my friends:

I wonder… How many of the jurors who found Casey not guilty would let her babysit their 2-year-old child?

That gives it a different perspective, doesn’t it?

Today we got to hear from some of the jurors, and it wasn’t like some people have assumed.  I just read where some of the jurors cried and were sick to their stomachs after voting to acquit Casey Anthony.  Another juror said, “I wish we had more evidence to put her away.  I truly do.”  That gives some insight…  At least they voted based on evidence instead of their feelings.

I also feel bad for the jurors for how long it took.  They were sequestered (socially quarantined) for over 6 weeks, kept from their families, jobs, social life, church, etc.  They had to listen to some of the same things over and over.  It was possibly like being in jail for a crime you didn’t commit.  They were doing their civil duty, but I think that is taking it too far.  Why can’t these trials be time-limited?  Give each side a certain amount of time.  Did it really take 6 weeks to discuss the facts, theories, and evidence?  At 40 hours a week, that’s over 240 hours, although they probably took much longer than that.  How can a conversation last that long?

In closing… 🙂

I couldn’t be a lawyer.  That’s not to imply anything bad about lawyers — they are needed.  When you go to trial, you need someone knowledgeable and experienced to ensure you get a fair trial.  But I couldn’t imagine the times when you would be defending someone who is guilty or prosecuting someone who is innocent.  Sure, you want them to have a fair trial, but shouldn’t you also want justice to be served?





How was the end of the world for you?

25 05 2011

I was rather disappointed in the end of the world that supposedly happened last Saturday (May 21, 2011).  Wasn’t there supposed to be the rapture of Christians to Heaven?  Wasn’t the Earth supposed to plunge into the great tribulation?  It was on the news, so it has to be true, right?  Sure seems like normal to me…  But what do I know about the apocalypse / doomsday?  (Actually, I have read the book of Revelation in the Bible, so I know a thing or two…)

Look at that — it says “The Bible guarantees it!”  There’s no such thing in the Bible, and obviously Harold Camping was wrong!  He is deceiving people and making God look bad.  God’s mercy is amazing that this guy is still around.  He predicted the same thing back in 1994, then when he was proven wrong he said it was due to mathematical miscalculations.  (Don’t you hate it when that happens?)  Then he said it would be in 1995, but obviously that didn’t happen.  An employee of his says he’s made at least 10 such predictions.  And as you can see above, his latest “prophecy” was for May 21, 2011, which has now passed.  How do you suppose he responded?  He’s saying that his dates were correct, that it was “an invisible judgment day” and “a spiritual coming” ushering in the final judgment and destruction over the next 5 months.  That is, he still believes the world will end on October 21, 2011.  As for the predicted earthquake that would make the one in Japan look mild by comparison, he said,

“When we study the Bible, we don’t know everything. The Bible is very complex… I challenge everybody, read every word and try to decide what is God saying. I don’t know if any of you have tried that… You’ll find that you’ll read verse after verse and you’ll wonder, ‘What is God talking about?’ We have to do it. We don’t always hit the nail on the head the first time. We’re a long way toward being right. But it’s not physically at this time, it is spiritual. We have not been wrong about that at all.”

To that, a reporter asked if he was saying we are not capable of understanding the Bible, and he said, “You are correct.”  Doesn’t that sound really ironic?

I heard that this time he advertised on 55 radio stations and 2000 billboards.  How much money was spent on that false advertising?  A reporter asked him that, and he said, “I don’t know.  I haven’t kept track of that.  I have been careful to watch that we’ve had enough money to pay our bills.”  An employee at his radio station estimates Camping spent around $100 million to advertise his prediction.

Some of his followers sold their possessions and spent all their money, and Camping basically said it’s not his fault: “Please understand we don’t advise anybody what to do.”  I suppose he has to say such things for legal reasons, but it is somewhat his fault, and he could at least apologize for misleading people.

This whole debacle seems bad for Christianity in my opinion, but I hope that somehow some people get saved from it.  Harold Camping looks to be a fraud and he teaches some other heretical doctrines (from what I’ve heard), but — God’s Word never returns void.

I read a quote by Harold Camping from 1995: “I’m like the boy who cried wolf again and again and the wolf didn’t come.  This doesn’t bother me in the slightest.”  You would think it would bother him to be wrong about one of the most important events in history, especially when he claims to be representing God and is telling lies that the Bible guarantees it.

There’s been a lot said about all this, but here’s my favorite response, and it’s only a picture with a few words, yet it sums it all up so well.





Do you pay more taxes than GE?

26 03 2011

Would you be surprised if you paid more in taxes in 2009 than General Electric (GE) did?  I heard someone on TV say that, so I had to check it out.  Surely that cannot be possible!  GE is a huge company, and looking online at Forbes.com, GE generated $10.3 billion in pretax income (not revenue, which was $157 billion).  Do you want to know how much they paid in taxes to the U.S. government?  Are you sure you want to know?

The answer is disturbing.   Not only did they pay nothing, but they actually had a tax benefit / refund of $1.1 billion.  Apparently this is nothing new for GE — they usually pay well below the normal corporate tax rate.

If you’re curious how they pull this off, this article at Forbes.com explains it.  They do pay some taxes, but it’s to other countries, where the tax rate is much lower.

GE isn’t the only company that does this.  There’s a chart at this page which shows the taxes of the top 10 US companies (by sales).  Some have high tax rates, while some are low (like Ford Motor at 2%) and one other owes nothing (Bank of America).

It’s just inconceivable to me that a company with $157 billion in sales paid less taxes to the government than I did…  How is that allowed to happen?

I’m no expert on tax issues, but I’m fairly certain that ain’t right!





a rant on news coverage of the earthquake in Japan

14 03 2011

I’ve been watching the news on TV more than normal the last few days because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  The power of the Earth is amazing, but it’s also extremely sad what the Japanese are going through right now.   I cannot imagine.  Not only are there thousands dead, but many more people lost everything and are homeless, and there’s the issue of not having enough clean water or food for everyone.  And on top of all that, there’s the potential for nuclear meltdown, which could affect us all.

I’ve been watching the news for just segments at a time, because there’s only so much “breaking news” and they start showing the same pictures and video clips and telling the same stories over and over again.  But here’s what irks me (and thus the reason for this post) — they’ll host an expert or professional in the field, let them explain the situation for maybe 30 seconds or a minute, and then they cut them off before they get through explaining.   “Sorry, we’re out of time.”  Really?  Instead of letting us learn more about the situation from people in the know, they have to cut them off so they can show the same clips again and reiterate how bad the situation is and how they don’t know what’s going on?  They obviously have the technology to let the experts talk while they show their videos and they can put text at the bottom to explain what’s going on for those just tuning in.  Actually, they already do this, so I don’t understand why they’re in such a hurry to get back to the regular coverage that isn’t anything new.

How much are we really learning about it?  Sure, we know about the disaster, but couldn’t they devote more time to hearing from the people who actually know what’s going on?  This was especially evident yesterday, after an explosion in the reactor at one of the nuclear power plants.  Both CNN and FOX News brought in science experts (one was Bill Nye the Science Guy and the other was a nuclear physicist), and both stations cut them off after less than a minute of talking and didn’t bring them back.  Both times it was very interesting and informative, yet both were dismissed to rerun video footage and speculate on what might happen with the nuclear reactors.

Ironically, some of these news programs have time for viewer comments from Facebook and Twitter and phone calls.  I’m not against that, particularly if they are presenting different viewpoints and choosing potentially valid perspectives.   But it seems odd to give the same amount of time to an expert as to an unknown person not even affected by it.  Are we really getting a fair and balanced perspective?

I suppose this is just the current state of American TV news… it happens when they cover politics, too.   At least we have the Internet so we have more options and more information.





solar panels for everyone

4 02 2011

Soon you may be able to add solar power to your house for only $600, or as low as $200 after tax rebates.  The solar panels can be placed anywhere that’s convenient for you (though still facing the sun, obviously).  And they’re portable, so if you’re renting or you don’t expect to stay in the same house for many years, this works.  The solar panels expect to go on sale in 2011, according to manufacturer Clarian Power.  There is no expensive re-wiring necessary — you just plug them into existing outlets and it works off your home’s energy grid.

Do-it-yourself solar power for your home

Just think, if the price continues to drop, soon solar power may be a viable option for supplementing our electrical usage.  I sure hope so.  There’s a lot of talk about renewable energy and “green” energy sources, and it doesn’t get any more renewable and “green” than the sun.  I’ve heard it said that our sun produces more energy in one second than all of mankind has used throughout history.  We should definitely find a way to harvest even a fraction of that!