Because The Children Are Worth It

Violence may be on the decline in America. School shootings may be less than they were in the 90’s. Students may be safer from physical harm in schools than they were a generation ago while being in more danger from moral harm. All of this may be true. But nonetheless, a major recurring story in our nation points to the opposite. This is not because our nation is more violent, but it is because the violence is being reported disproportionally.

It is evil to hope for a crisis. It is evil to use a hoped-for crisis to your own political or economic gain. It is often those opposed to liberty who create such crises. And it is the media who directs the attention of the public by deciding what to cover and what to overlook, thus magnifying the situation exponentially.

The group American’s For Class released an 8-step plan to make our schools safer. I strongly suggest you read it for yourself. Here are the 8 points, with the details removed to keep this post brief.

  1. Secure the perimeter 
  2. Control the flow 
  3. Protect the interior 
  4. Develop the School Safety Volunteer Network 
  5. Increase parental communication 
  6. Appoint a District School Safety Specialist
  7. Increase Mental Health Services 
  8. Establish a School Safety Hotline

I believe these are all excellent steps to begin with. This list should be non-controversial. We know that it isn’t, but it should be. This isn’t a topic that will be solved by merely avoiding controversy, though. So let me add a few ideas written like the rough draft of a bill.

  1. Since 97% of all mass shootings occur in gun free zones, we need to abolish gun free zones. Gun free zones in public or taxpayer funded areas are inherently unconstitutional. Gun Free Zones only serve to disarm law abiding citizens. Criminals and murderers might refer to them as Helpless Victim Zones. Private property is exempt from this provision.
  2. Any public or taxpayer funded property that insists on remaining a gun free zone (schools, federal buildings, post offices, etc) assumes the responsibility and liability for any injury, damage, death, or other negative result due to a violent act upon those visiting said property. No legally licensed carrier of weapons shall be barred from exercising their constitutional right without consequence. Private property is not included in this provision.

Specific to Schools that are Assisted with Government Funds of any kind

  1. With the legal penalties for law abiding gun owners to exercise their constitutional rights removed, teachers and staff at our public schools will no longer be barred from defending themselves and their students with the best means at their disposal. All law abiding citizens with legal access to a school shall be allowed to enter the school grounds without disarming.
  2. For the safety and security of every person in the school building, the teachers and staff members who choose to bring their own gun into the school must conceal their weapon and must keep this weapon on their person or in a secured location at all times. Speaking openly with students about their decision to carry a weapon results in a less secure environment for everybody, especially the teacher, and will result in corrective action up to and including a loss of employment, regardless of tenure.
  3. Any staff member who reveals other weapon carriers to third parties will be subject to corrective action up to and including a loss of employment, regardless of tenure. If this action is repeated, that teacher will be charged with a felony. The safety of students is paramount. An active shooter should never know who is prepared to end their threat. A staff member should never set another staff member to be the first target of an active shooter.
  4. Staff members who decide to carry may join a program that will provide firearms and accessories at a reduced rate and training at no charge. This training includes, but is not limited to, situational awareness, conflict deescalation, marksmanship, first responder medical training, psychological assistance, and shoot/no shoot scenarios.
  5. Staff members who have joined this program, should be compensated for their willingness to stand up for the safety of everyone around them, with bonuses for staff members who are able to produce their firearm at times that are random, but places that are private.  There should be no negativity toward any staff member who chooses not to participate in this.

I share all of this because our children are valuable. I share this because there are people who do not value the lives of others or even of themselves. Any action taken to restrict others will only affect those who are already more law abiding than off duty law enforcement officers. The people more likely to perform violent acts will only see more Helpless Victim Zones.

It’s time to live in accordance with the worldview we espouse. It’s time to accept our own national worldview as a reality. It’s time to defend the second most vulnerable people in our country from danger, and it’s clear that posted signs just aren’t doing the job. It has been demanded of us that we do something, If we are to do something, then we need to do something consistent with the ideals of liberty and of personal responsibility and of the reality that bad people are only stopped when good people are empowered.

Nehemiah 4:8-9 English Standard Version (ESV)
And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

You salute the rank

Regardless of your political stance, I think our culture would be wise to take a deep breath and remember something our grandparents understood. You respect people because they are people. You honor those placed over you because you honor the one who placed them over you.

That is true whether you believe that a plurality of districts placed a leader in power or whether you believe the Bible when it says that all leaders are placed in their positions by God. Nobody is exempt from this requirement.

In the USA, you do have the freedom to object to the actions of the leaders. The leaders are not the gods of our country. To find out what idols have been set up over you, you merely need to ask which person or group are you not allowed to disagree with. There is the real tyrant. But I digress.

I didn’t vote for our current president. I haven’t voted for a winning president in many years. But I honor the office of the president, and by extension of that, I honor our president. Because I honor the One who placed him in his office. To do any different would be hypocritical.

Finally to answer an objection before it is asked, Christians are not required to obey unlawful demands by government leaders. When I say unlawful, I refer to demands that are unconstitutional, against lesser (but still valid) laws, or opposed to the law of God. We honor earthly leaders because we honor God. You cannot honor God by breaking His commandments. Therefore, I would not celebrate the sin of others. I believe Romans 1:32 has some negative things to say about Christians offering approval to sinful behavior.

1 Peter 2:16-17
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.


The Myth of Marinade

I’ve known about this for a while, but nobody seems to listen. I used to argue this point more, but now I mostly just chuckle to myself and let it go. By looking at the title of this post, you know where I’m going. Marinade is a silly way to waste time before you cook your meats. And how do I know this? Because science.

According to the propaganda arm of cooking known as the USDA, the meats that you would marinate, mostly chicken and steaks, is comprised of mostly water. In fact, 2/3 of the weight of your meat is water. Now look at the ingredients of your favorite marinade. I’m guessing the first ingredient is some kind of oil.

What happens when oil combines with water? Not a whole lot, right? This is why the marinade will flavor the outside of your meat, but it can’t penetrate without being directly injected. And even that injection can only travel along with the fibers of the meat.

America’s Test Kitchen is kind of like a Consumer Reports organization that specializes in cooking. This brief video will agree that marinades will not penetrate meats but will be useful when adding flavor to tofu. But then you run into another problem. That problem is that you are now eating tofu.

I think the next golden calf for me to grind up will be beer can chicken. Have a nice day!

Star Wars: The series that never should have continued

Having finally seen Star Wars, The Last Jedi, I have a few thoughts about the entire franchise.

  1. I’m grateful that I only paid the RedBox fee. Had I paid movie theater prices for that movie, I would have walked out and demanded a full refund.
  2. I saw enough entertainment in Rogue One to like it as a B-Side Star Wars movie. I wasn’t a fan of the discontinuity of the technology and had a flashback to SpaceBalls while watching it, but as a one off, I was OK with it.
  3. I thought The Force Awakens was formulaic, and served only the purpose of passing the baton with a copy/paste of the major Episode IV themes. I maintained an optimistic thumbs up, but wasn’t completely sold on the movie.
  4. The Prequels aren’t as bad as many will say. I watched them all eagerly because it had been so long since there was anything Star Wars, but ultimately they consist of great moments surrounded by mediocre cinema.
  5. New Hope and Empire Strikes Back are classics that have stood the test of time. Han shot first.
  6. Return of the Jedi is really good. I would say great, but the ewoks were pretty stupid and watching them win in combat against Imperial Stormtroopers left a sour taste in my mouth. I imagine they were the idea of Kenner toys.

Star Wars is a great trilogy, followed by poor movies. Which actually brings it down to the cultural level of Rocky, which is also a great movie trilogy, followed by movies that may not be up to par, but at least they are better than all Star Wars movies after Return of the Jedi.

If I even bother to see Solo, it will be via RedBox.

There was a gun scare in my community this week and I’m angry

Yesterday an alert was sounded that a white man wearing black clothes with a backpack and holding a rifle was seen in the vicinity of a Waukee school. This caused the schools to be put on lockdown, an outdoor elementary track and field event to be moved from the High School track to the elementary facilities, uneasiness among the faculty and students, and more. News reporters converged on the town. Everybody had a sense of dread, waiting for the next bit of news.

And as the information trickled in, I began to become angry. Why aren’t they giving us more information? Why isn’t this all over the news outlets? Why haven’t they hardened the schools against attack yet? The day continued on, more or less a normal day, and our daughter got out of school and spent some time with her grandparents.

When we picked her up, I asked her about the event and she didn’t seem too upset about it. But she said that she heard through the grapevine that this gunman had been seen in close proximity to the school by students. When asked why that hadn’t been reported she didn’t know, and honestly I didn’t expect her to know. But then I asked if they got any pictures of this guy, who was walking near the school, but not firing his gun or taking any offensive posture toward anyone. She said no. They stood at the window and watched him for a few minutes, but not a single one of these children thought to pull out their smartphones and take so much as one picture.

That’s odd. These kids are addicted to their phones. And they take photos and videos of everything. Maybe not in a fight or flight situation, but if they are staring out the window at a bunny in the grass, they’re getting photos of it. Probably with Instragram filters. And a whole group of them didn’t think to reach into their pockets to take any pictures. The only rational conclusion of this is that the gunman was Bigfoot.

My spidey sense started tingling.

Fast forward to today, when I first saw this story about a local mother who is also angry. I echo the sentiments of Sara Coen. The fear, the vulnerability, the unknowing, those were very frustrating. The confusion was disorienting and the reports after the fact, while clarifying the situation somewhat, have also sparked some emotion. Anger.

Seriously, the terrorists have won. Does that sound like hyperbole? It did to me until I looked up “terrorism” in the Google. Terrorism is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

This gunman, assuming there ever was one, did not use violence or intimidation according to this news report. There was only one report made, and from the released information it was a report of a man spotted near Stivers Ford with a rifle. No information has been forthcoming about what kind of rifle, not that it matters, or whether the rifle was secured in a case, which matters only on a societal base in Waukee, Iowa. Oh, we do know that the man had fair skin, which doesn’t matter, and we do know that he was wearing dark clothes and had a backpack. None of this is illegal in any way. Had he been on school grounds as described, the possession of any weapon would be a felony. But he wasn’t on school grounds. In fact, he wasn’t near any school grounds. 

The closest landmark to the scary man that Google Maps recognizes is Stivers Ford, a great place to buy a Ford vehicle. The closest public school to Stivers Ford is Prairieview school, a transitional school for 8th and 9th grade children, which semi-shares the High School parking lot. Using Google Maps, I routed a drive from Stivers Ford to Prairieview school and found that driving the 2.3 miles under normal conditions would take 5 minutes. But the man was said to be on foot. I need to adjust my calculations here. So make that 34 minutes walking 1.7 miles.

I’m all for safety in our schools. I have some reasonable ideas on how to improve that safety. Perhaps I’ll share them someday. But let’s think about this rationally. A single man with a gun was reported miles away from any school. Nothing this man was reported to be doing was threatening or illegal in any way. And events in the school were transferred to other locations because of this. The learning environment was disrupted. The parents were placed into a state of fear.

And for what? Maybe this guy was returning home after visiting the local gun club. Local what? The New Pioneer Gun Club is located inside the city limits of Waukee. And they’re easy to find when you’re in town. Just listen and head toward the sound of shotgun shells. I’m not saying this guy had been at the gun club. I am saying that the caller who sounded the alarm didn’t know if he had been there or not. They allegedly saw a gun in the community and reacted the only way they knew how.

So the terrorists are winning. But the terrorists, by definition, are not who we may think they are. Terrorism is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

There was no violence here. Put that word out of your mind. There is intimidation. It was made against civilians. It was made in the pursuit of political aims. Until Google changes the definition of “terrorism” I can’t say much else about it. Was the Waukee Police Department right to follow up on a report? Yes. Was it appropriate for the schools to be locked down over an unverified report of law abiding activity? No. Were the students placed in fear over this? Yes. Was the fear directed at an inert object, possessing no inherent faculties of good or evil? Yes.

So who is the real terrorist here? I’ll let you come to your own conclusion. It’s not like anyone in this country is listening to any facts that don’t already agree with their presuppositions anyway.