Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1

The thing I've always found most notable about this First Chapter of Matthew is the part where Joseph finds out that his promised wife Mary is already with child.

We're not told how he finds out. But we're told he was a just man and that he didn't want to subject Mary to any ugliness. So he decided to release her quietly.

Jesus talked more than once about not judging people in the gospels. He instructed us to leave judgement to God, who knows all sides of everything, and who as Creator of Everything is more than capable of handling all situations. Right here near the very beginning of the gospels is where that lesson starts.

Joseph refused to judge. He didn't allow his ego to feel bruised into some twisted sense of honor. Nor did he take a "holier than thou" stance. I'm sure he assumed there was another man involved. So he prepared to let Mary go quietly, probably into the arms of this other man.

And then, when the angel told him that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, he didn't hesitate to take her as his wife. Again, he didn't let his ego get in the way. He didn't care if anyone who knew them did the math and realized that Jesus was conceived before their wedding. There were probably a few people who looked down on them, thinking they were sinners instead of being part of a miracle.

This is why Jesus said not to judge. We simply don't know the whole facts of every story. And we have no idea what plans God may have.

Think how differently this story might have turned out if Joseph's ego or inflated sense of justice caused him to publicly accuse Mary. She might very well have been stoned. And Jesus might never have been born.

But God chose Joseph. A just man. A man who refused to judge. To raise His Son and be a role model to Him, of what a good man is.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Net Neutrality

The fight over Net Neutrality has been going on for a while. The New York Times did an article this week entitled "A Threat to Internet Freedom." If you haven't heard much about it, drop on by and read it.

Basically the chairman of the FCC (an Obama appointee who was formerly a big time lobbyist for the telecom industry) is trying to give the telecom industry the permission to run a two tiered Internet, where rich companies would pay more and get the best speed and those with less means would get slow(er) connections. So if you want to visit Amazon, you'll get there in the blink of an eye. And if you want to visit a site run by a small business, you'll have time to go out for coffee before it opens.

This might not be a problem if we lived in a more technologically advanced country like Japan and South Korea. They have much faster Internet speeds than we do, that cost less money. So maybe slowing down the Internet for the less rich on the Internet might not even be noticed by them. But here, it will create yet another divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Speaking as someone who knows a number of small business owners, including those who sell crafts and those who are Indie publishers, I'm really unhappy about this. There are a lot of people who depend on the Internet to make a living through their blogs, private websites, and small businesses, especially in this time when the economy is still so weak. What will happen to them? Nowadays your business isn't considered real unless you have a website. Even the community theatre I belong to has one. 

And don't think those big companies will be paying the new telecom fees out of their CEO's Christmas Bonuses. They're going to raise their prices on the rest of us. In fact, I have a feeling the reason Amazon Prime's rates went up recently was to help cover the new costs they expect they'll have to pay for Prime Instant Video and some of their other services. And of course Netflix and YouTube will have to cover their increased costs as well.

It's nice gift to the telecom companies. And a secondary one to large companies who will see less competition and will pass on their extra costs to us their customers. Small businesses and ordinary folks will take a hit ... again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Love & Prayers

I just want to send out some love and prayers for all those in Boston and Texas who suffered through so much last week.

Even in the aftermath of a bombing that killed several and mangled and wounded many more, the people of Boston rallied. Two hours after the bombing the Red Cross was already announcing that it had all the blood reserves it needed for a while. And businesses and individuals stepped up to help out people who found themselves stranded in town. It was a tough week for you guys, but you made it through and refused to be bend to the terrorists.

In West Texas, a lot of brave first responders and others lost their lives in the devastating explosion in a fertilizer plant. Some of the people of that town are still wondering when or if they'll be able to return to their homes. The local schools and churches are trying to carry on despite everything and our hearts are with them. Texas already had a lot to deal with in the last couple of years with the continued drought. It's really past time they caught a break.

Love and Prayers to you all! Stay strong!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fema & Real World Realities

There was a reason why the original 13 colonies of the country we now call The United States decided to unite in 1776. They knew that together they would be much stronger.

Of course they argued a lot like family does.

Some of them saw their individual colonies more as "countries" than states. And their differences over slavery almost tore them apart. But still, they managed to stay united even as they continued arguing.

The countries of Europe thought this union thing looked so good they decided to put together one of their own. Why? Because even with the arguments and troubles, they are stronger together.

The recent "Frankenstorm," Sandy, goes to prove this once again. How could one state ever hope to handle the aftermath of such a storm on its own, any more than Texas was able to handle the firestorms of the recent summer drought by themselves.

When trouble comes, you need an organization that's large and strong enough to handle it, one that comes from outside and isn't suffering from the exact same problems at that moment. In the case of disasters, this often comes down to FEMA, the national guard, or the army ... all of which are involved in dealing with the aftermath of Sandy at this moment.

You can't look to a private for-profit corporation because private for-profit corporations have to make a profit and worry about taking care of their back offices, which nowadays are worldwide. They can't afford to do charity work. Organizations that are non-profit and specialize in charity work are often looking to save the whole world, not the coastline of one corner of it. The only people who can really be relied on to concentrate on one area and do it for the cheapest price possible, while realizing that that one corner of coastline is important to them as well, is the federal government.

Is FEMA perfect? No. How can anything run by humans ever be perfect? God is perfect. The rest of us do the best we can. If someone capable is in charge, things run smoother. But there will still be mistakes. If someone incapable is in charge, things won't run so well. And there will be more mistakes. It doesn't mean the agency is worthless, it just means you need to hire a more capable manager.

Because when the chips are down, who can you really count on except family? And for all the rigmarole that goes on, the 50 states of what we call The United States are family.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Referee Lockout & Government

A couple weeks ago the football world realized how important referees were to the game. While the inexperienced refs were in place there were bad calls, overly long games, and players trying to get away with things to the point where some folks were afraid someone would get hurt.

So the call went up for an end the lockout. And when it was over there was great rejoicing as the refs came back to the field. Of course, there was probably some cursing later that same night when some of the refs made unpopular calls. But the point had been made.

In sports and in life we need referees. Good referees. To keep the players honest and under control. Sure, some players can watch themselves, but for those that can't we need rules and someone with a whistle.

Good government is supposed to be like that. It's supposed to act as a referee, to make sure everyone is following the rules, to call a foul when necessary, and make sure all the players have a fair shake.

And like with the referees, not just anyone will do. You need good refs. And if you don't have them, the government and the game falls into chaos. Then no one has a good time.

I said in it my last posting and I'll say it again. Multinational companies are like foreign countries. They span the globe, have their own ruling bodies, and they have to look out for what's best for them and their big back offices. Some companies are run by people who are above reproach. They take care of their employees and respect the laws and people of the countries they do business in. But there are also companies that are run by folks who are always looking to see what they can get away with.

When there's a powerful company looking to get away with something, you need an equally powerful entity to blow the whistle and give them a time out. State governments aren't generally strong enough or wealthy enough to do that. So the federal government has to be able to step in and play referee.

There are some folks who say "big government" is evil. Because it limits freedom. Probably because they're afraid the ref is going to make a call against them. No one likes that. But football got a real lesson on what things look like when there aren't any good refs. And I'm afraid it would look pretty much the same if the federal government became weak and/or filled with people who favored one team over another on the field.

So, we need a strong government run by good people who follow the rules and make sure there's a level playing field for everyone. And we need to think twice when a coyote argues that a farmer is limiting their freedom by having guard dogs keep watch outside the chicken coop.

God is perfect. The rest of us need rules and good refs to oversee the game. And since we live in a democracy, it's up to us to make sure we have good refs and good rules.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Made in America but Sold in China

There was an interesting article last week in the New York Times about a small plumbing company in Brooklyn that manufacturers high end plumbing fixtures and sells them to places like China. It's called "A Manufacturing About-Face: Made in America but sold in China."

This is something I really think we need more of. To me multi-national companies are more like sovereign nations than people. They stretch across vast areas of the globe, have their own rules, and ruling bodies. They belong to themselves only. And because they have a global back office to feed, they can only think in terms of immense sales. Nothing else would make sense for them.

This means there are opportunities for small local companies and I really wish people in the U.S. would take more advantage of this.
Speaking as a housewife, I'm constantly disheartened by trying to buy clothing made in China that is inexpensive, but doesn't wear or wash well. And is constantly in sizes that don't fit people of larger stature. I'm not a short or dainty woman. And I spend a lot of time in the rural Adirondacks sawing down tree saplings and hiking through deep snow or damp grass in my yard while walking my dogs. I need clothing that can take dirt and hot water. And I need shoes in a larger size that are able to stand up to the weather.

I get that big companies are interested in selling to the biggest markets. They're thinking of Europe, Asia, and big cities. They're not thinking about the rural U.S. in the north or the south, or women with size 10 EE feet. But there's a market here that's going begging. I don't know what it would take, but a small company in the U.S. could make good money off rural America because they wouldn't have a big global office to feed. And they'd sure have a ready-made customer in women like me.

That's a lesson that some indie publishers and Etsy store owners are learning. But it can be done on a larger scale too. I'm glad to see some are learning it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Remembrances of 9/11 & The World Trade Center

The tragedy of 9/11 seems like a long time ago in a lot of ways.

Still, I remember the smell of acrid smoke that stubbornly stayed with us for a long time and got stuck in the closets even in Queens.

And I remember friends and relatives contacting each other to see if everyone was all right.

And the miraculous situations where some people were stopped from going down to the area that day.

I remember the anger. And the fear. And the lines of New Yorkers that went around the block ready to give blood for the survivors that weren't found.

And the fearlessness of NYC firefighters who trooped in to face they knew not what in an effort to save people from the doomed buildings.

And I remember the immediate outpouring of help that came in the form of volunteers from outlying states.

And the way my husband and I started making our goodbyes in the morning more heartfelt, because we had learned well that you never really knew what the day might bring. Or if you might see each other again.

But I also remember the lighter side of the World Trade Center.

Like the giant King Kong that laid at the foot seemingly forever while they finished up the 1976 movie.

And the guy known as the Human Fly who climbed the South Tower in 1977.

And everyone always asking while I was working there if I'd seen the 1974 movie "The Towering Inferno." I made a point of missing it.

I also remember how proud I felt as I watched the Tall Ships sail the Hudson River from one of the upper floors of the Trade Center during the Bicentennial celebrations. I was young and hopeful and the world seemed full of promise.

I found the creaking of the buildings creepy as they swung in high winds and I hated the way your ears popped when you took one of the "express" elevators. And before they got the window cleaning machines, it was kind of weird having window washers hanging outside the building on the high floors.

But I loved the shops in the lower levels, and the busy beehive feeling to it, the dramatic sunsets and the way the tops floors sat above the clouds on certain days, making it appear as if the rest of the world had disappeared.

I can't bring myself to go to the Memorial. I think it would be too painful.

But I remember...