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Swallowing the Spider (Syria) to Catch the Fly (ISIS)

Posted by Clark Bunch on September 19, 2014

ISISIn a rare move of bipartisanship Congress has approved a plan to fund Syrian rebels to deal with ISIS. President Obama has vowed that American troops will not be on the ground in combat roles but that we will offer air support, tactical training, funds and whatever else is necessary to destroy ISIS. The vote in the Senate was 78-22; only 10 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted no to arming Syrian rebels. Here is whole story from Reuters.

On the one hand, it’s good to see bipartisan cooperation toward anything. It’s good to see Obama act with Congressional approval, something he does without when he feels necessary. But let’s think for a minute about what we’re doing here. For the time being the Syrian rebels are the lesser of two evils. Osama bin Laden was the lesser of two evils when his rebel government was fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. We basically created a problem there that we had to go back and deal with later. The same thing with Saddam Hussein. Remember the Bay of Pigs? That was us too. The plan to was to train, arm and deliver Cuban rebels to deal with Fidel Castro. How quickly can one nation forget?

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly, I don’t know why she swallowed the fly. I guess we’ll see in 10 or 20 years who we have arm to deal with whatever we’re about to create in Syria.

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Pastafarianism 101

Posted by Clark Bunch on September 8, 2014

Screenshot 2014-09-08 at 9.10.02 PM

Meet Shawna Hammond. That’s her in the driver’s license photo… with a spaghetti strainer on her head. Leslie Rangel of News Channel 4 reports:

 

It may sound like a joke but an Enid woman says her Oklahoma driver’s license features a unique symbol of her religious freedom.

It may even prompt a giggle, but for Shawna Hammond, the spaghetti strainer is a symbol of freedom.

“It doesn’t cover my face. I mean you can still see my face. We have to take off our glasses, so I took off my glasses,” Hammond said.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s rules, religious headpieces cannot cause shadows on your face and the photograph must present a clear view of your face.

“I asked if I could wear my religious headwear and he said, yes, it just couldn’t have any logos, or any type of writing. I told him it didn’t, and I went out to my car and got my colander,” said Hammond.

Hammond says she walked back into the tag agency in Enid with a strainer on her head.

“She kind of chuckled, she giggled, gave me a funny look and asked me what religion I was. I told her I was a Pastafarian,” Hammond said.

Pastafarianism is a religion where there are “no strict rules and regulations, there are no rote rituals and prayers and other nonsense,” according to the church’s website.

“It came about in 2005. A man named Bobby Henderson wrote an open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education. It was actually about teaching creationism in school and he came up with the flying spaghetti monster and it had just as much merit,” Hammond said.

Hammond is an Atheist and believes no one should be forced into certain beliefs.

“For me the colander represents freedom, our freedom of religion, and to whatever religion we prefer or lack of religion. It was important to me to exercise that, even if it’s just a driver’s license photo,” Hammond said.

“I’m glad I was able to do it. It’s hard living as a non-religious person in Oklahoma. It felt good to be recognized that we can all coexist and have those equal rights,” she added.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is in charge of the driver’s license department.

Officials say they want to do a thorough review of the picture to make sure it is following all the rules.

If it does follow the rules, authorities say they may look at changing the rule of religious headwear because it is more than 10-years-old.

See the interview with Shawna Hammond via News Channel 4’s website linked here.  

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Some Ads Are Better than the Program

Posted by Clark Bunch on August 11, 2014

Some t.v. adverts are expected to be good, like soft drink and beer commercials during the Super Bowl. Some people tune in just for the commercials. Some companies, like GEICO for example, have built a reputation of having clever commercials year-round. And every once in a while a product hits advertisment gold, like K-Mart’s 15 minutes of fame with the “I shipped my pants” spot.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese has put out turtle shaped noodles due to the renewed popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But in the t.v. spot? Yes, that really is Vanilla Ice. And yes, he really did.

 

“Word to your mother.” 

And speaking of Geico, I laughed pretty hard at this one:

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The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

Posted by Clark Bunch on July 4, 2014

Dec of Ind

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –

Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:
For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing taxes on us without our consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:
For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In Jefferson’s draft there is a part on slavery here

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

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Is NOOK Saving Barnes and Noble or Making it Worse?

Posted by Clark Bunch on May 18, 2014

nookI just read two articles on the business perils of Barnes & Noble, one at Forbes and another from Business Week. Both make suggestions about what B&N could do to make their brand as a whole and NOOK in particular more competitive with Amazon.

I did not realize that Barnes and Noble has been losing money for years developing and marketing the NOOK e-reader. Based on the success of Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad, someday the tables were supposed to turn and NOOK would save them. B&N is the largest brick-and-mortar book retailer possibly in the world but that entire industry has been shrinking for years. B&N has been putting all theirs eggs in the NOOK basket for years in order to adapt and take advantage of a changing industry. Seems like a plan… but in 2012 e-reader sales declined for the first time since e-readers took off. Oops.

Here’s one example that Business Week gave to illustrate NOOK’s sales problem. You can buy the Kindle edition of The Goldfinch by Donna Tart for $7.50. The same title for NOOK runs $14.99. It’s a well established fact in the market place that Amazon has better prices. Jeremy Greenfield (writer of the Forbes piece) suggests that NOOK lower all prices across the board and keep them that way until customers agree that NOOK always has the lowest prices.

Let me give you a different example. I haven’t started pushing my new book on this blog yet (there is a link in the right-hand sidebar) but one might imagine I would get around to it sooner or later. When God is Near comes out on both Kindle and NOOK in a few weeks the price will be $4.99 on both platforms but Amazon offers a higher rate on royalties (70% verses 65). In order to net the same amount in royalty payments I would have to charge a higher price  on the NOOK version. Retail customers and authors get a better deal from Amazon. Barnes and Noble has to be aware of this.

Grocery stores can’t compete with Walmart on price – which is why I buy all our groceries at Walmart. To compete with low price giants, in any industry, competitors may brag about better customer service or offer services that are unique. NOOK doesn’t do that either. If you offer fewer services at higher prices, and know that you are losing customers, how long do you sit around and hope things change? Barnes and Nobles’ answer to that question will determine if they stay around or not.

*NOTE: The Businessweek article places blame for B&N’s decline on Amazon and the Department of Justice which I disagree with. I like the Forbes’ list of 3 suggestions, check them out and see if you agree.

Posted in economy, F.Y.I. | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trip Advisor Selects Georgia as the Best State for Barbecue

Posted by Clark Bunch on May 15, 2014

bbqBarbecue is a very regional sort of thing. Barbecue sauce may be tomato, vinegar, mustard or even mayonnaise based depending on where in the United States it is made. Comparing North Carolina BBQ to that of Memphis or Texas would be like comparing the proverbial apples to oranges. So I used to say there is no possible way to determine where in America the best barbecue is found.

Trip Advisor, based on reviews from thousands of travelers, has determined Georgia is the best state for barbecue. I have traveled to only a handful of states so who am I to argue? The top ten states for barbecue are:

  1. Georgia
  2. North Carolina
  3. Texas
  4. Missouri
  5. Tennessee
  6. South Carolina
  7. Florida
  8. Illinois
  9. California
  10. Kansas

This article  goes on to list the ten best barbecue joints in the nation. Please notice that the #1 establishment is in Austin, TX. Georgia doesn’t make the list until #4 but appears 3 different times in the top 10. According to Trip Advisor’s research (which I’m sure was pains-taking and exhaustive) good barbecue is available in more places in Georgia than in any other state. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

This is one of those posts that could start a fight, but hey, some things are worth fighting for. One final clarification – barbecue is a noun, referring to meat that is cooked a special way. It is not a verb that means to cook outside as in “Come over, were barbecuing.” No, you’re grilling. That’s Yankee talk right there.

GA BBQ

 

For more on Georgia Barbecue I recommend this article by John T. Edge.

Posted in F.Y.I., food, news | 1 Comment »

Thursday, May 15th 2014

Posted by Clark Bunch on May 15, 2014

Screenshot 2014-05-14 at 3.19.06 PM

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. Ecclesiastes 11:5 via Bible Gateway

Slow Healing Process by Bill Crowder is today’s devotion at Our Daily Bread.

I’m sick, possibly with strep. If you pray, mention my name. Please and thank you.
(I realize the devotion title is Slow Healing Process. Ironic but not related.)

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Wednesday, May 14th 2014

Posted by Clark Bunch on May 14, 2014

Screenshot 2014-05-13 at 2.53.28 PM

We now have a Brita pitcher and I have been known to pay a buck or two for a single bottle of water. But we also still have a hose.

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
-Psalm 139:13-14 ESV via Bible Gateway

Looking Good by Julie Ackerman Link explores how we attempt to make ourselves look good spiritual; today’s devotion at Our Daily Bread.

Each Wednesday check out Paul Wilkinson’s Wednesday Link List. This guy spends more time online that I do and weekly cast his pearls of wisdom before swine. (I was going for clever but that came off rather self-deprecating.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Tuesday, May 13th 2014

Posted by Clark Bunch on May 13, 2014

lazy

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 
-Proverbs 31:30 ESV via Bible Gateway 

New Birth by Alyson Kieda is today’s devotion at Our Daily Bread.

200 girls taken from their private school may be the only news we’ve gotten lately out of Nigeria. But could hope really be alive and well? In many circumstances, from ancient Rome to the more recent Soviet Union, Christianity thrives when faced with persecution and forced underground. Please read Christians Find Hope Amid Persecution via Baptist Press News. 

 

 

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Pop Top

Posted by Clark Bunch on May 12, 2014

I can’t tell if this is a commercial for Husqvarna or Coca-Cola. At any rate good thing you saw this on the internet and therefore have no need to try this at home.

pop top

Posted in OMG | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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