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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Indefensible Center

The indefensible center is a great weakness at the heart of a religion. When I was twenty years old I became vulnerable. I was having trouble at college and had fallen in with a bad crowd. Then one day a Mormon missionary came knocking at my door. After being baptized Mormon and formally joining the church, I discovered the indefensible center of Mormonism. They don't tell you about this core belief at the beginning, because if they did most people wouldn't join.

I became dissatisfied with Mormonism when they exhorted me continually to bring my family and friends to church with me. They explained that being a Mormon meant converting everyone I knew to Mormon. The thought of being a proselytizing pest to friends and family was repugnant to me. They explained their dietary restrictions, some of which made sense and some of which seemed pointless.

Some might begin to question when they heard the odd story of Joseph Smith and the angelic delivery of a set of golden plates with a strange language written on them. No one but old Joe ever saw those plates, and the tale of why that is, would take several pages. I could accept all that, but when they fully explained their beliefs, this was the camel's back-breaking straw. They believe that you can't go to heaven until you are baptized as a Mormon. For me this belief was the indefensible center.

I naturally asked about all the billions who would never even have a chance to be baptized Mormon, the billions who'd lived and died before Joseph Smith was even born. Mormons believe that their campaign of geneology will eventually allow them to discover the name and family tree of every human ever born back to Adam and Eve. Those who died without a chance to be baptized can be baptized by Mormans even long after death, as long as the full name of the person is known. I just couldn't accept that they'd be able to discover the names of people born before the invention of a written language. I visualized teams of Mormons working Ouija Boards, and that was it. I left the church.

Similarly, Scientologists believe that 75 million years ago an evil warlord named Xenu—who was dictator of the Galactic Confederacy—brought billions of his people to Earth in a DC-8 like spacecraft, hydrogen bombed them, then collected the souls of these dead billions and brain washed them in big cinemas. This information is not revealed until the new Scientologists have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours being brainwashed. A website called Operation Clambake is a valuable resource if you wish to learn more about this wholly evil scam of a religion.

Christianity has the virgin birth. I don't know about Islam or Judaism; however I suspect a similar indefensible center lies within these religions as well.

So, why do religions have these impossible to accept central storylines? My theory is that it's a sort of litmus test of gullibility. If you can get over the hump of believing the unbelievable you're now ripe for the plucking my plump young pigeon. Even more importantly, someone who has this kind of faith, will kill others or even martyr themselves in support of this indefensible center. The most popular religions protect their vulnerable central weakness with an impenetrable shield of thousands of martyred believers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

reboot

Those of you who've used PCs for years must remember Windows 98. Programs running in this operating system grabbed blocks of memory and often kept them even after the programs were shut down. This meant that periodic reboots were necessary. Failure to reboot resulted in slower and slower response times from the computer until even opening something as simple as Notepad took several minutes to accomplish.

The way I see it, our government is analogous to Windows 98. With all the government programs still running long after they should have been shut down, with all the clutter of obsolete laws still on the books, with all the corruption and injustice in our legal system, and a President who'd rather take another vacation than work, it's obvious that the government can't or won't respond nearly as fast as we need them to.

The response times for hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill debacle were abysmal. After almost nine years we still haven't even started rebuilding the World Trade Center. It takes months, sometimes years, to get defendants to trial. We've known about the lack of money to fund Social Security for baby boomers for decades now, and still nothing has been done. The few examples listed here are barely scratching the surface of the entirety of our government's total systemic failure.

Perhaps it's time for a reboot.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Unemployment

The national unemployment rate stands at 9.7 percent. I got this figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I was curious about how they arrived at this figure. I had always assumed it was drawn from the number of people who had filed unemployment, although when I thought about it, I realized that this would leave plenty of people uncounted. All the people looking for a job wouldn't necessarily go down to the unemployment office. So I assumed that the 9.7 percent figure was probably a misleadingly low figure. It turns out that they get their statistics from a sample group of about 60,000 households―sort of like television's Neilson ratings.

As a cynic, it's always been my opinion that people who have six months of unemployment payments coming to them will probably take about six months to find a job. Well, what about those really looking for a job? That's the true unemployment figure. I don't believe it's possible to ever have an accurate figure of the people truly looking for work, because people are such seasoned liars. E.g. Tommy says he's looking for work. Tommy schedules and attends several job interviews every week, but is never hired. Is Tommy truly looking for work or is he merely pretending?

I've had the opportunity over the last fourteen years to closely observe job applicants interviewing for work at my company. Many choose to dress in slovenly fashion or worse. Many speak a language that is only tangentially aligned with what I call the English language. Almost none of them know anything about our company that can't be assumed from the name.

The job interview is kind of like a blind date. Neither party knows very much about the other and for the relationship to continue, both parties must be pleased with what they see. The applicant is focused on presenting an image of himself that is the most flattering. The interviewer is focused on seeing past that image to the person behind it. Often the interviewer forgets that for the blind date relationship to continue, both parties must be satisfied. The applicant often forgets that his responsibility is not just to land any job, but a job where he'll be happy.

Finally if you're truly looking for work, do your homework first. Have you got a well organized résumé? What do you know about the company where you are applying? Have an answer for the following two questions, "Why should we hire you?" and "Why do you want to work for our company?"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Welfare States of America

As time passes I grow more and more pessimistic. I work long hours—from 60 to 70 hours per week—and this level of output is rewarded with ample wages to support my family. I'm a problem solver, and if I was ever to look for a new job, the first thing and the last thing I would stress to my interviewer is that I'm a problem solver. My motto is—Work Smart!

Things are in balance. My tax rate isn't yet ruinous, so it still pays to make as much as I can. I'm looking ahead. I'm looking at college tuition for four boys. I'm looking at retirement in twenty years. I'm also looking at burdensome health insurance, a house mortgage, utilities, two aging vehicles soon in need of replacement, and the list goes on. I’m not alone. This is the story of America, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Dad never said it would be easy; in fact he stressed the exact opposite. His motto was always—There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

No free lunches—except for the ones getting the free lunches of course. Every day I see evidence of the degeneration of America. What incentive is there for a person to work for a living when all life’s necessities will be provided to him whether he works or not?

As the Federal deficit mounts towards unsustainable levels I'm reminded again of my father's motto. The bill will arrive, and everyone will be looking around for somebody else to pick up the check. I have this pessimistic feeling that the somebody will be me.