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Fourth of July Movie

Here is the setup. It is Independence Day, but raining outside. You decide to watch a movie until the rain stops. You want to watch a classic Fourth of July movie, and these are the movies you have to choose from.

 

Remember to click the VOTE button to register your choice.

 

Thanks for playing! Happy Fourth of July.

 

 

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What Would Free College Be Worth?–Meditations on Bernie Sanders’ Plan

Yesterday (24 June 2019) Senator Bernie Sanders upped the discussion among those candidates hopeful of winning the Democratic nomination. If I understand his plan, there are two parts to it.ap_738914881801-smaller_slide-c38afbf1af02da96e2f3e6688d883493538cf8cd-s800-c85

Part One: Offer free tuition at public universities and trade schools to everyone.

Part Two: Cancel all existing student loan debt.

ABC news reported it this way on their website:

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced his most sweeping plan yet to tackle the increasing cost of a higher education, introducing a bill Monday that would make public colleges and trade schools tuition free and cancel outstanding student loan debt for everyone full article here

I completely understand why some people want these changes. It starts with the pernicious problem of history majors from Princeton with $150,000 in student loan debt only qualified to teach history for $45,000 a year. I feel for these situations, I really do. I was able to attend the college of my choice because of financial aid, but still had to borrow some money to finish. A four-year university is expensive and the most expensive schools and degrees do not always offer promising jobs in the future, especially if all you have is an undergraduate degree.

Yet there are problems with the Sanders’ plan. If you make something free, the value plummets. By excusing debt, those who have already paid their loans back and those who chose to go to local schools, work through, and leave debt free are punished.

I have five big concerns that make me opposed to Sanders’ (and Warren’s) plan. I want you to know, though, I could be talked otherwise, as these are where I start from not where I may finish. A solid argument could persuade me. I just haven’t heard the solid argument yet.

Objection 1: If tuition at public institutions, like my alma mater, the University of Texas, is free then it will only be a matter of time before a university education at a public school is downgraded to essentially be a biggie sized high school diploma.

Objection 2: When public institutions are so constrained, the dividing line between public and private will only increase (a distinction that is currently neglible) with no public school able to get into the top tier. This will further divide the haves and the have nots.

Objection 3: Many private schools are religious institutions. By excusing debt accumulated, say, at BYU or Notre Dame, the government is funding religious education. As a Baptist, I have a hard time accepting this.

Objection 4: Canceling that much debt at one time, with no obligation or payment of any kind from those who amassed the debt, creates two immediate problems. The first problem is artificially tilting the free market economy.  The second problem is the expectation of a whole generation of mostly young people that they can have someone else pay their debt. It undermines responsibility, which is something college is supposed to teach.

Objection 5: Going forward, what do we do? If you cancel the debt now, in five years there will be students with loans needing to be paid back. Is this a perpetual promise, because that would get expensive fast. Free tuition doesn’t cover the most expensive part of college–room and board, thus guaranteeing there will always be college loans and college loan debt problems.

I am cynical of Sanders’ plan, because the Democratic candidates are falling all over themselves to give away more and more free stuff in an effort to get elected. I have a counter proposal. It is three parts. Part one, increase both need based and merit based federal aid while putting tougher limits on how much money can be borrowed. Part two, instead of free college, spend money on healthcare and create a universal care system. That would take a big spending burden off the entire public. Part three, expand and make for easier application the methods of having individual student loans forgiven. Some methods already exist, but these could be increased to include things like volunteering at your child’s school or a local food bank, jury duty, or donating blood or plasma.

 

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Bella and Whoopi and Privacy

I don’t really know who Bella Thorne is, but I know she is a celebrity.

I know exactly who Whoopi Goldberg is; she is Guinan. She singlehandedly guides Captain Picard through some of his darkest times with her wisdom and insight.

Bella Thorne should listen to Whoopi.

She should also listen to Whoopi because Whoopi knows a thing or two about computer hacking, because her greatest work was in a film where she foils international computer hacking thieves and spies with a giant toothbrush. True story. The movie is called Jumping’ Jack Flash. No doubt her finest hour. Unknown

Here are the facts as I understand them:

  1. Bella Thorne had topless pictures of herself on her phone/cloud.
  2. Someone hacked these pictures from her and attempted to extort money.
  3. As a preventative measure, Bella Thorne released the pictures herself on Twitter.
  4. On the television show The View, Whoopi Goldberg gave advice that basically says “You shouldn’t take naked pictures of yourself because someone will hack you.”
  5. Bella Thorne lashed out at Whoopi on her Instagram saying “Shame on you” (although she insisted upon using the letter U instead of the word you.)

The basic accusation Bella leveled at Whoopi was victim shaming, likening the situation to someone who went out dancing and had a drink or two, then was raped and blaming the victim for asking for it.

I think Bella misses the point, and that puts me in the very uncomfortable position of agreeing with Whoopi Goldberg.

Let’s use Bella’s analogy instead of the facts. A woman who is raped after a good time of dancing and drinking a little too much is a victim. The rapist should be punished to the furthest extent of the law and for what it is worth, I think the laws should be tougher. However, a good mother or grandmother, or any parental figure, will try and teach their children to always be on the lookout for dangerous situations and take extra precautions BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT THE PEOPLE WE LOVE TO BE VICTIMIZED.

Whoopi, as I hear her words, was not as much shaming Bella as she was giving advice. There are evil people out there–rapists, hackers, extorters–and they intend harm. Their victims are usually innocent people just trying to have a good time.

Whoopi doesn’t want to shame you Bella, Whoopi wants to protect the next victim by giving some common sense wisdom. I know that it is hard to understand, but us old folks (okay, Whoopi is thirteen years my senior, but I’m feeling older every day) know a thing or two because we’ve been hurt before. We’ve danced too long, drank too much, and trusted people we shouldn’t have. We don’t want it to happen to you.

Sometimes we come off as grumpy when we do this, but I encourage you, Bella, to listen with open ears to the wisdom of your elders rather than becoming defensive and attacking.

I feel for Bella, I really do. She has been wronged in a personal and intimate way, and she thought she had taken steps to circumvent the wrong. Her mental state, as I observe it in the Instagram video, is fragile. I hope someone close to her will encourage her to go silent for a while, heal, get some rest, and spend time with people who really care about her wellbeing. That is hard for celebrities because of ego and their own sense of self importance. Nevertheless, that is what she needs to do.

Related to this whole squabble is the pernicious problem of privacy, and I think that is what made Bella really angry. She heaped upon Whoopi the emotion she really feels toward the one who hacked her images. She had assumed her pictures were private and would never be seen by someone without her consent. In a perfect world, I wish that were true. Privacy and free speech are eroding in our culture at a rapid rate. Every. Single. Day. It seems impossible to make a secure network that can’t be broken into; and keeping people’s data private is only a pipe dream. It reminds me of my home: no matter how secure it is, an evil person with bad intent will find a way in. There are days I wonder if the internet, as much fun as it is, has not proven itself to be a failed experiment that should be abandoned immediately by all free socieites.

The only real solution to the privacy issue is to make the punishment for hacking so severe–lifetime in prison perhaps–confiscation of all financial resources–no one would ever dream of doing it. The punishment should extend to anyone who knowingly uses or consumes this information, including publication. This should be true of individuals and also of nation states like China, North Korea, and Russia who hack everything from corporations, to media giants, to elections.

Until we can stop this, though, listen to Whoopi. Don’t take naked pictures of yourself. They will get out. This is true for Bella Thorne, but it is also true of the sixteen year old whose boyfriend bullies and pressures her into taking the picture and sending it him. There is good chance when they break up everyone in their peer group will see that picture. This is true of pictures, emails, and all kinds of data and content.

Listen to Whoopi and us old folks. We might not know as much about social media as you do, but we do know about life and human nature and we don’t want to see you hurt.

 

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The Pastor Draft

What if churches chose pastors coming out of seminary the way the NFL draft works?


Announcer Guy: First Church from Somewhereville, California is on the clock now with their first round pick.

1st Analyst Guy: Somewhereville has two big needs in the off season. Easter really exposed some of those holes, too. They need a solid Bible exposition preacher, that is their obvious need but up from they are weak so the best pick would be a great discipleship pastor who can develop some solid formations.

2nd Analyst Guy: Thats Right. Everybody thinks they will go for a preacher, but I expect them to take Stan Standard from Asbury as a spiritual formations leader. He’s a solid three tool guy–Firm handling of curriculum, excellent people skills, and that degree plan of his includes Biblical languages, so he is no slouch in the study.

1st Analyst Guy: The problem with Stanley is Somewhereville needs to come in under their salary cap, and Stanley will have a big price tag. There is some speculation they may trade down.

Announcer Guy: The Deacon is coming to the podium.

Deacon: First Church Somewhereville has traded their pick to Mosaic Missionary of Downtown Elsewhere for two picks in the second round.

1st Analyst Guy: That is a great decision. Now they can get both of their holes filled, but for a cheaper price tag. Looks like they will talk Tommy Talks-A Lot out of Truett Seminary in Waco for their Bible peaching needs. He has two great tools–evangelism is one, but his secret weapon is the funeral service. No one does a funeral like Tommy. With the savings under the salary cap they can probably get someone like Sandy Small Group out of Fuller. Her Methodist background will really come in handy for all the relational small talk she’ll need to make.

2nd Analyst Guy: Doesn’t Sandy also have a certificate in baking from the Paul Dean School of Sugar Overload?

Announcer Guy: Sandy graduated first in class at the Paula Dean Academy. It was one of her summer pick up annexes last year. A lot of people advised her it was a waste of time, but she knew she’d need to up her stock to make it to the big leagues.

2nd Analyst Guy: She’s gonna nail the potluck and coffee klatch at First Somewhereville. This is such great pick for them. Give it a couple of years, and they will be in contention for solid mega-church numbers during Christmas and Easter.

1st Analyst Guy: You can bet there is a building campaign in that church’s future.


 

Of course, this system would be okay with me if there were a nice signing bonus and guaranteed contracts.