Posted on August 3rd, 2014
I worked in management for Sears throughout college. It was a good job that treated me well and gave me a great opportunity to build a business management resume that has benefited me throughout my whole adult life. But that was a very different Sears that I have seen over the last 10 years.
Last week, I was on lunch and decided to pull up a YouTube video of Chris Tomlin (a Christian worship music artist) singing a song I’d hurt at church the weekend prior. As most of us know, YouTube regularly plays videos of sponsored content (a.k.a ads) before your chosen video. It is part of the monetization that Google brings to all of its products. When a company pays for an ad to run, they specify all of the criteria that will determine who sees the video. This includes thing like the geographic location of the watcher, the viewer’s history, and the specific thing searched for, as well as everything in between. I’m simplifying the process, but it is nearly infinitely customizable, ensuring that the only people who see your video are the exact people you want to see it.
So, I search for Chris Tomlin and the title of the worship song (I don’t remember right now exactly which song it was) and I click on the video. Before my video starts to play, this is the ad I see (feel free not to watch the whole thing):
I skipped the ad when it gave me a chance and watched my worship video, but the more I thought about it the more upset I became. I can’t think of a YouTube history on my account that would have been pertinent or anything else that makes sense…unless either they were putting that out to everyone, or they were specifically targeting people watching worship videos.
So, I took to Twitter, incredulous that Sears would be so insensitive. The screenshot from my Tweet, and Sears’ response not long after, are below.
It is 2014, know. I am not surprised by a company supporting homosexual marriage. I don’t like it, but I know it happens. I don’t support the homosexual mafia attacking companies like Chik-fil-a simply because their CEO said that he believes a marriage is between a man and a woman. But most of all, I can’t support the incredible rudeness of a company deliberately attacking the morality of Christians in this way. Whether their Tweet to me was an automatic response to mine or not, it doesn’t matter.
I’m not one to start a boycott and get worked up over anything secular. I think that secular complies not guided by Christians will not act Christian. However, companies that deliberately attack Christians is another story altogether.
You know why they do it? They do it because they know that they will insult us and treat us disrespectfully in whatever ways they choose, and we will buy their products just the same. We might post a Facebook complaint and feel like we accomplished something, but as soon as the next sale comes along, we will open up our wallets again.
For me, it stops here. I have drawn a line in the sand. I have a lot of Craftsman tools and a Sears credit card. I’m canceling the card and have bought my last tool from them.
Incidentally, if you want the story behind the video (which I actually haven’t seen in its entirety), Sears sponsored a float in the recent Chicago homosexual parade. On that float they had 4 homosexual couples getting “married” and this video was celebrating that.
Next time you buy a Sears product, know that is where some of your money is going. If you support that, then great. If you don’t, you are supporting it anyway with your money.
Posted on June 20th, 2014
This week I read about how Rick Perry had created controversy in California by equating homosexuality with alcoholism. People were irate. The problem is, he didn’t do that at all. You can see and hear the comments here. He was pointing out that people have a choice in their behavior whether or not their genetics predetermine their outcome. His statement was obvious, and people getting irate about it just want to be irate because they don’t like anything Rick Perry says, and particularly anything that a Christian would say about homosexuality.
But that isn’t what the headline says, is it? …Another outright lie.
But this gets me to the heart of the matter. The division is not within the Republican Party. Recent polling shows that Americans are farther to the Right and Left than they have ever been and with increasing unity.
However, there is something that has become very fractured. Americans are turning on President Obama in record numbers. Recent data shows that we believe Obama is a worse leader, more dishonest, and more incapable than ever before. The media are turning on him, as many recent encounters (1, 2, 3, 4) with the administration’s Press Secretary have shown.
Cracks have appeared through the savior’s armor, and it is apparent to all. People feel like the country is crumbling and they’re desperate. The Left is realizing that the solution that they believed in is actually our downfall. They wanted government healthcare. It is a disaster. Even polling of Democrats shows this. The huge VA scandal is an in-your-face example of what happens when our government legislates healthcare. The people aren’t dumb enough to miss that.
The crisis from Benghazi is showing how little the administration cares about its own people and has tried to cover up their own failures. The media may have tried to cover it all up as well, but a few of them still have some of their consciences un-seared. I don’t think they’ve forgotten. Even the IRS persecuting Conservative groups has gotten so ridiculous that the media can’t even ignore it anymore (they “lost” 2 years of emails?—-Come on!)
Years ago, Joe Biden (speaking for the President) said that success in Iraq would be the administration’s key achievement. This has been a narrative that they have repeated many times, even into last week. Now, as the situation in Iraq deteriorates without American forces there, perhaps creating one of the most dangerous situations the world has seen in generations, the press is attacking the administration. Even more Liberal reporters are attacking the President over this.
It is not a difficult time to be a Republican. It is a difficult time to be an American, for sure. Our republic has been destroyed by within from years of political forces that foment ideas counter to those of liberty, and through 6 years of Obama “fundamentally changing this country.” The cracks in the fabric of America that these forces have created are starting to show very visibly. Those who supported and gave voice to these movements are now realizing this and are starting to rebel. They are fractured. The Republicans are not. -Ryan
Posted on June 15th, 2014
I’ve been watching and reading the news with a different eye recently. It really started a couple weeks ago during the Texas State Republican Convention, at which I was again a delegate this year. During the convention, I sat through caucuses and meetings as well as the proceedings on the convention floor.
A convention is an exciting and busy event, and there is always positioning and debating. That is the point of the whole thing. When delegates from a whole state get together to pick one document that will guide all of what their collective will is going to be concentrated on over the next 2 years, there should be considerable debate.
After the convention each night, I would go home and absorb the day’s news. I consistently heard throughout the weekend about how the split Republican Party was arguing over issues of homosexuality, marijuana, and immigration. There were Republicans protesting, and the organization was undoing itself.
I consistently wondered if perhaps the news media were accidentally at a different convention, or if possibly I was the one attending a different convention entirely. I checked. I was definitely at the right place. None of what the news was reporting was happening at all.
While platform positions regarding homosexuality-related issues were debated in the committee meetings I’m sure, the body of delegates didn’t discuss it even one time. Let me rephrase that in case you missed it: we didn’t talk about homosexuality even once…not one time…not even in passing…it wasn’t an issue. Yes, the platform does address “reparative therapy.” Anyone who has paid attention to the news knows this is only addressing the push for making it illegal to offer counseling available to those who do not wish to live as practicing homosexuals. This has happened in California already. The platform position only addresses this situation. This part of the platform was not discussed at all, or even voted on separately (lest you think I’m cheating in my prior statements).
Outside of the building on the first night were somewhere between 8 and 12 people with pro-homosexual marriage signs. They were not members of the convention. They were exceedingly kind, and it seemed everyone was kind to them. I firmly support anyone’s right to protest in this way. They were on the evening news and on radio. They must have had great pre-protest press releases for a dozen people to get so much media coverage.
Marijuana was discussed, and any pro-legalization efforts were soundly defeated by the body. There was no mass demonstration. There were however, a lot of pro-pot people who only showed up as delegates prior to that vote and then left shortly afterward. Four of them were in my row. I had never seen them before. One of them leaned over to his friend during the vote and said, “That just shows how dumb these Republicans are.” They were clearly not Republicans, and they were only there to try and create chaos. They failed. But they did have their NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) car out front, made to look like a cop car, but with big pot leaves on it. I have always found it amusing that the organization to legalize pot uses an acronym that proposes an alternate spelling of “normal.”
Immigration was slightly contentious, for about 45 minutes or so. But in reality, there was little difference in the ideas of the two vying groups. In fact, the only real discrepancy was that the more Conservative of the groups thought that if securing the border was allowed to be in the same legislative package as other immigration matters it would end up never being enacted. Other than that, almost everyone was in agreement. In the end, a compromise was made, smashing the two plans into one. Everyone left unified. There were no mean words, and no fighting.
But this is the opposite of everything we’ve read, isn’t it? Not in the “Liberal spin on reality” way, but just complete lies. -Ryan
Posted on April 16th, 2014
Ummm….sure looks frozen to me.
Posted on April 9th, 2014
A child, a knife, yet another life and another cut down
I heard it on the news this morning
In the car
on the way
—a news report.
Some child had gone to school and in the place where other children learn and play
he had done the unspeakable
And now there are kids in stretchers
and hospital rooms
Life cut short at the end of an angry knife
Innocence ended with a sharp pain
that doesn’t end as quickly as a wound will heal
Now come the questions
The endless clacking of TV jaws
plastic as the sets from which they’re watched
and maybe great law-makers will all shake hands
And do their canned jams from grandstands
Only using the tragedy to prove their existence justified
And just do something
“If only one child…”
“Please we must…”
“But this would’ve saved”
And a million “why’s”
Not the kind that the saddened families will ask
But a “why” that ends in a “why” or a lie
In the end
It’s just for cameras
Another law may pass
or it won’t
for the truth is
The truth. If it matters to such as these
That these great tragedies
are what they are—evil.
There is no Why other than a troubled kid
Some dysfunction or anger, or social, or blah-blah
He was one of us—although he wasn’t
at least, we’ll say
It wasn’t the knife
or the gun
or the bomb
or the fist, or bat, or rock
That–the plastic jaws leave unsaid
For then we’d have to face the evil in us
the evil we let be and grow and fester
We would stare into the mirror
and our evil would stare back at us
Posted on March 26th, 2014
The day after I graduated High School, I went to the mission field. During my first summer as a missionary, we had long worship and prayer sessions every evening before our concert. At first I resented these times. They seemed long and boring. I had little reason to resent them. It was felt more than thought, and it was probably spiritual in nature, although I did fixate on the fact that we sang worship songs that I didn’t really know. Therefore, I decided that they must also be worship songs that were not as good as the ones I knew.
But on that mission trip I learned how to worship. I discovered that worship was a skill that came naturally to humans, but that I (like probably most people) had become so used to worship primarily myself and I had to fix that before I could understand how to worship God.
I took a Greyhound bus that August from Butte, Montana to Tacoma, Washington in order to start my freshman year of college. There, I joined the university Christian club, who had weekly worship sessions. I fought with all I had to not resent those times, because now the songs were different than the ones I’d learned as a missionary.
I struggled passionately to keep my intimacy with God. I worshipped with them, learning new songs, but now I had learned how to worship, and I could worship anywhere. I learned the joy of worshipping alone. Some nights I would sneak away to the piano practice rooms in the music building. They were open 24/7. I could sit in a small empty room with a closet and worship by myself.
I would play what little I could, and always faced a resistance at first. But I would press through that, and suddenly I would come to a song that would spark an emotion or a certain heart-string and the tears would flow. All that was me would seem to melt away as I connected with God and felt His presence. That feeling is indescribable really, but all I can say is that it is better. List any good adjective you can think of, and that feeling is better. It was water to my own soul.
It has been a while since I’ve felt that, I must admit. I have taken times worshipping on my own and have even had moments of intimacy, but not like that.
It is my lunch break now, and earlier this morning I was listening to my worship mix from my hard drive as I worked. Tim Hughes He’s Got the Whole Worship in His Hands started playing
When all around is fading
And Nothing seems to last
Each day is filled with Sorrow
Still I know with all my heart
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
I’ll fear no evil, for you are with me
Srong to deliver, mighty to save
He’s got the whole world in His hands
Lately, each day is not filled with sorrow and I feel like I am losing nothing, particularly. I am doing quite well. And yet the tears started to fall as I sang along. All I can describe, the best I can do, is that His having all of it in His hands hit me in a new way. My sin, my joys, the things that I have given up, and the things the enemy has stolen from me, the moments of triumph, and those things I can never undo…all of it, in His hands.
I have nothing to fear. You are with me. You’ve got it all in Your hands. And here I am, better.
Posted on March 13th, 2014
The other day I got one of those junk mail pieces offering me “up to” $8,800 for my old Honda Accord. It was in fake handwriting font, with FINAL NOTICE in Stencil font on the bottom, complete with slight Gaussian blur and acid wash to make it look like someone used a red ink rubber stamp to let me know that it was that serious. Apparently, they are really in need of 9 year old Honda Accords. They are at the hight of demand. If you go in say, “I want a brand new Pilot Premium,” they will say, “Why would you want that, when you could drive a 2005 used Accord?”
The best part was the fake check and stub it was all printed on. It had a realistic-looking customer ID # and Account number section below a pretend perforation line, and a check at the top. Where you would write the amount tendered on the check was written “up to $8,800.”† It was all signed by someone named Yuni Chen.
Realizing it has been several years since my infamous “lost pet” incident, I thought it was time to have some fun. So I wrote Yuni a letter in response. I have included it below.
It is stamped and ready to mail. -Ryan
Posted on March 1st, 2014
There are times I’ve found myself in moments so surreal that it felt like my experiences were happening remotely, far away from me. I think everyone has encountered that feeling before, when you seem to be a bystander to your own existence, a fly on the wall watching yourself go through something.
Often, these times seem be connected to some great tragedy or hardship. It is then, when your stomach seems to fall out, like the first great drop of a rollercoaster, or that tingly swing set feeling. Sweat starts beading from a clammy forehead and your throat goes dry. But even as you are experiencing this, the camera shifts perspective and in your mind’s eye you are now watching as a spectator. I had a moment like this just a week or so ago, not filled with terror but surreal in its own right.
I visited my grandma, my father’s mother, in a convalescent home. Or maybe it was a rest home…I don’t quite know if there is a difference, or if it matters what we call those places where people end up getting stored as their candles flicker out. She is by no means ignored the way many people are there. My relatives, who just aren’t able to provide the degree of care that a Parkinson’s patient requires, visit Grandma Nina almost daily.
I’ve watched many of my older relatives pass away, some suddenly and some ever so slowly. My Aunt Ruby gradually disappeared into the couch over a period of years as the same disease that is taking my grandma gnawed at her body. I am still not sure which kind of death seems nobler, disappearing overnight or fighting with every breath. I think the quick version has more appeal to me. I’d rather remember Aunt Ruby playing her organ or making me a sandwich, than be stuck with the picture that is now her predominant profile in my mind. I hope that others remember me at my best someday, as well.
But with my grandma there in that home I don’t have that choice. I have very little memory of her at all outside of the other day. For reasons I won’t discuss here, I haven’t talked to her since early childhood. When I think back, there are only snippets in my mind of her or my paternal grandpa. It may be sad, but it is the truth, and I have chosen not to try to deconstruct the reasons why things were the way they were—instead to deal with things as they are now.
So there I sat, with a virtual stranger in that place, talking about the weather and birds, and a tree that was blooming nearby. And I was outside of myself, very far away but wanting to be close…wanting memories that just aren’t there. And wishing that there was something else, anything I could talk about… something that had more meaning.
In the end as I left, she gave me a long slow look—and maybe I returned that gaze, I don’t know. Her eyes said that she realized she didn’t know if we’d meet again, and that she also wished there was more to talk about than the weather and the birds. I think maybe, despite me being outside of myself, that presence, us both in that moment was itself just enough. –Ryan
Posted on January 8th, 2014
I am not saying that I agree with this completely. I am saying that it is inspiring of deep thought.
“ So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another–their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun…
Do you wish to know whether that day is comping? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half loot.
Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, and equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: ‘Account overdrawn.’
When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, “Who is destroying the world?” You are. “
Posted on January 7th, 2014
Every January I try to make a few predictions for the upcoming year. This is not astrology, tea leaf reading, or prophecy. I am simply making some informed guesses based upon observations. My track record is pretty good, but it is certainly less than 100%. Here are a few:
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average high on January 1st was 16,500+. On the last trading day of the year, The Dow will be a net loss (under 16,500) for the year. I am guessing that there will be a large correction period this year, but it could also be from fallout from a major political event, or a world event.
- There will be a major political change in North Korea. I cannot see the Kim Jung Un regime lasting another 12 months. I know that part of North Korea’s strategy is to appear weaker than it actually is (see Stratfor’s analysis), but I think the regime is more tenuous than many believe. This regime change will likely come from an internal coup rather than an external invasion. I must admit that this is more wish than anything, but I do believe this has a good likelihood.
- The NSA related security issue will be one of the biggest stories of 2014, just like it was this year. However, part of 2014′s story will be about the private sector trying to both solve consumers’ desire for security. There will be new products and maybe even new companies creating products and services to safeguard consumers’ private data. Some of these will be mostly hoaxes, although there might be some new creative technology. There will also be a rising popular push for keeping private information off of the internet
- There is a high likelihood of Israel being a much more significant newsmaker than last year. The possibility of a strike on Iran has increased significantly after the last American and Iranian presidential elections. The ramifications of this would also be huge. Even if there is no Israeli strike on Iran, I believe there will be significant West Bank/Palestinian related violence, perhaps even another intifada.
- Gas prices will end the year lower than the $3.12 they are at now.
- Hollywood movies will be remarkably more upbeat in tone than they were in 2013. This will be especially true of the Summer Blockbusters, which will feature less apocalypse porn than in recent years.
- Hilary Clinton will formally announce her candidacy for President this Summer. She will announce this Spring that she is going on a “listening tour” and will announce her presidency surrounded by a sense that people are crying out for her to run.
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