Archive for December, 2009

A Vacation With Old Friends

December 27, 2009

A Vacation With old Friends

Today is my last post until my wife and I return from a vacation with two of our dear friends and their wonderful wives. The guys are two old friends that I first met in Cub Scouts.

Life-long friends are wonderful. If you have them, or redicover them,  they can be a very special link to your past and warm pleasure in your present. They can be the most comfortable company. Some of what you may have forgotten, they will remember and visa versa: This can be a hoot!  Reunions with old friends can be the best times of great enjoyment.

We will board a  cruise and  voyage through the Panama Canal.   God willing, I will be posting here  again on  January 11, 2010.

God Bless,

Tom Mawhinney

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Laughter Is Good Medicine

December 26, 2009

Laughter Is Good Medicine

Sometimes when words simply fail to comunicate ones emotions about something important, humor is good catharsis.  I don’t know about you, but catharsis is exaclty what I need right now! Perhaps the following will be a little comic relief for you too.

VTM, 12/26/09

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

By Micheal Ramirez,  from Townhall.com

 

Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel

By Gary Varvel,  from Towhall.com

 

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

By Michael Ramirez from, Townhall.com

 

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

By Chip Bok,  from Townhall.com

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

By Gary Varve,l from Townhall.com

Mom’s Christmas Trees

December 24, 2009

                              
          Mom’s Christmas Trees
 
When I was a small boy and when it was time, like always before, I looked out my little second story window. Out through the cold jack-frost figures, through the darkness and to the blowing swirling clouds of snow across the busy street–to that great and wonderful circle of radiant white light. They were there again!
 
The christmas trees had returned to red’s gas station.
 
And my own christmas tree was in the front room, in front of the big window. It was almost up to the ceiling and it was so very green and it smelled so sweet and special, just like I remembered.
 
It was a mountain of colored lights, brightly reflecting balls and other pretty things; and it was covered with wisps of shimmering-shining silver tinsel. The tinsel hung like hundreds of tiny ice-cicles on my giant tree.
 
Mother had the soul of an artist and her Christmas trees were simply magnificent. I wish I could remember the very first Christmas tree of Mom’s that I ever saw; but I cannot. I can only feel a wistful warm-faint-glow from a time when time was a mystery and when life was magical.
 
When Mom passed away in 1985 something left Christmas and Christmas trees everywhere. But for each of the past ten Christmas’s Mom has returned with a very special gift, a remembrance of love and devotion past, but not gone.
 
When I go to church on Christmas Eve I can never get through the singing of Silent Night without my eyes watering, my nose running, and my words choking into silence. It is then that the images of the twin giant christmas trees on the alter blur, glisten, and radiate with cherished images from my childhood.
For that moment time does not exist, the magic returns, and once again Mom dresses and illuminates not one, but two giant Christmas trees–

Just for me.

 

God Bless and Merry Christmas!

V.Thomas Mawhinney (From Christmas, 1992)

Red’s Gas Station

December 22, 2009

RED’S GAS STATION

I will forever wonder how old I was.

We lived in an upstairs apartment where there was a little cubby-hole between a bannister, with a long and scary drop into the dark stair-well below, and a little window that looked out over our roof and across the street to red’s gas station.

I didn’t know about time. I didn’t know about minutes, hours, or clocks; and I didn’t know the months of the year or about calendars. I only knew that if I waited a long time and asked mom, “when will it be here ?” often enough, she would eventually say in a happy tone, “it won’t be long now!” Then I would begin to watch out my little window.

I watched through the rain and the sleet, and eventually I watched through the glistening patterns that jack frost painted on my little window. I watched out through the snow that sparkled under the light-post and across the street to red’s gas station which was bathed in a floodlit swirl of white. I watched many times each day, for “countless days”, but it did not come.

Then one tired and doubt-filled night it happened, just like before! I could hardly believe my eyes.

Out through the little frosted window and out through the night and the glistening shower of falling snow—–they were there! Bathed in a blinding glow of refracted light, they stood waiting quietly at red’s gas station.

In the pure white radiance, they were a special and beautiful green, and they were as tall as they could be, and there were “millions” of them–everywhere. The Christmas trees were back at Red’s Gas Station.

It took forever—–but Christmas had come again!

P.S. Children everywhere still innocently wait and hope for the joys of similar and different miracles in their lives.

If humankind would only bless these children with the warmth of it’s love and devotion, this miracle of miracles would reflect and echo for all time.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (2009)

God Bless,

Tom Mawhinney

You Have Your Penis Pierced!

December 20, 2009

You Have Your Penis Pierced!

Jonah Goldberg’s column entitled America Through The Lens of Reality, appeared in the South Bend Tribune (12/17/09). In it he discussed the decade of the “reality show” and decried the reflection of  America’s moral condition in that” mirror”.

Golberg provides examples of our moral decline through media depictions and through actuarial data depicting our collective behavior (sex, violence, profanity, births out-of-wedlock and more).

A sample of his comments is enough to get you started. I invite you to then tabulate your own examples of America’s moral decline and think of some things that you could do to reverse this disastrous trend.

The following words in bolded quotes Jonah Golderg’s words:

On an MTV program, a girl is cheating  on her boyfriend with another guy. At the moment of truth the girl delights in her stunning discovery:

‘You have your penis pierced. I love it’, “the drunken vamp exclaims”.

He further notes that: “British historian Arnold Toynbee argued that civilizations thrive when the lower classes aspire to be like the upper classes, and they decay when the upper classes try to be like the lower classes. Looked at through this prism, its hard not to see America in a prolonged period of decay.”

He then observes that:

 “society has embraced  what social scientist Charles Murray calls ‘ecumenical niceness.’ A core tenet of ecumenical niceness is that harsh judgements of the underclass..or people with underclass values…are forbidden. An added corollary: People with old-fashioned notions of decency are fair game.”

“Out-of- wedlock birth was once a great shame; now it’s something of a happy lifestyle choice.”

“The cavalier use of profanity was once crude; now it’s increasingly conversational. Self-discipline was once a virtue; now self-expression is king.”

“Reality-show culture has thrived in that moral vacuum, accelerating the decay and helping to create a society in which celebrity is the new nobility.”

“Paris Hilton, famous for being famous thanks in part to a “reality” sex tape released days before her 2003 reality show ‘The Simple Life,’ is now a cultural icon of  no redeeming value whatsoever.”

End of Golberg’s quotes.

                                   ————————————————————–

Perhaps next, Mr. Golberg can do an analysis of America’s moral decline through our televised  advertisements.

Remember, “If your  erection lasts longer than four hours”—-call your doctor.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.   12/20/09

 

Wake-Up America–Rules Rule!

December 19, 2009

Wake-up America—Rules Rule!

Whether you are a Christian, a member of some other God-Fearing (where did the fear go)  belief system, an agnostic or an atheist, rules are rules. In the world, when you break its’ rules for survival, you will suffer the consequences.

And it matters not, whether you see the world as a happy confluence of improbable events, or as the act of a Supreme Being. If you jump off the Empire State building, without a parachute, you will go splat.

You may rage at the rules of the universe, or you may pray to God on your way down, but you will go splat.

What happens to you after you go splat  is a debatable issue, and I will not debate it here. You may believe what you will on the matter of an after-life with no argument from me.

Whether a confluence of improbable events or an act of God, you and I are here together and so are around 308  million of our fellow Americans. The rules upon which this  great Nation was created were thought by our founding father to be God’ rules. You may view them as “rules of nature”, if you so choose.

Being a little ol’ fashioned, I prefer the former assumption to the later.

Anyway, make your own choice. Because with respect to what governs the quality of our collective behavior, good or bad, the rules and consequences that we apply to ourselves through our elected local, state, and federal  governments will determine our success or failure in the world. These rules and consequences that we apply to ourselves will have a very large  impact upon the future viability of our culture.

To live well requires that you learn God’s (or Nature”s) physical rules and the rules of human behavior.  The physical sciences and the behavioral sciences have discovered much that we need to know. Now, what we must do is live by those rules  and also help others learn to live by them.

I cannot discuss all of the rules in this short posting, but the following few Principles of behavior are a good start.

The Law of Effect: Consequences control behavior. Reward bad behavior and it will increase in frequency. Reward good behavior and it will increase in frequency. Punish good or bad behavior (or withhold rewards from them) and these behaviors will decrease in frequency.

The Law of Contiguity:  Those stimuli that are paired or associated together tend to occur together more often in the future. In other words the infidelity, sex, drugs, violence, irreverence, disrespect and violence shown in our entertainment media will occur in certain situations or contexts and all of this will be associated with and the feelings we have when watching them (happy, excited or titillated).  What is called Propaganda affects the  ways humans think, feel,  and behave in the same ways. Also, through repeated presentations and  the behavioral principle Habituation, we naturally adapt to or  “get used to” that which formerly offended, upset or disturbed us.

Through rules and Principles of Social Learning a great deal more of what we see and experience affects our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  In short we tend to remember and  imitate the behavioral patterns of those with power, those with fame, and those who we find attractive. They become our models and we are inclined to imitate their actions.  Contrary to modern thought,” the whole” of the  behavior patterns of our media-popularized celebrities (entertainment, sports, political) do matter.  We are inclined to imitate much more of what they do than their ability to sing or dance,  make a basket, make a touchdown, swing a golf club, or look good and talk persuasively.  On this issue, you can fill-in your own celebrity names and think about their effects upon the behavior of our youth and impressionable adults. I will say no more on this,  you know exactly what I am talking about.

Beyond God’s-Given rules to live by, or Nature’s rules  if you prefer, is another matter.

This matter is one of motivation. What will best motivate a great population to follow certain rules that bring increasing patterns of good behavior?

If you think that the best strategy is to simply teach humans that they should be good and treat the earth and other living things with kindness and respect, you had better think some more.

Please take the time to view the following video on the role of faith in America’s past successes.

I want to thank Linda Mawhinney for forwarding this video to me.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.  12/19/09

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VUo8OuFaiI&feature=player_embedded

Gagging On Green

December 17, 2009

Gagging On Green

The following article by Charles Krauthammer is one that every voting citizen should read.  Every thinking individual has a deep concern for protecting our environment against brainless and wanton destruction. However, I am starting to gag on green.

 The “green movement”  has now evolved into what appears to be a ‘true believer’s” sanctimonious religion in concert with disguised political alliances who strive to redistribute world wealth, from richer to poorer nations. This theme  appears to be a massively enhance version of what is currently happening in American politics at this moment. The confluence of these evolutions could be disastrous.

Yes, there are ligitmate environmental concerns. And I am left to fearfully wonder if the micro examples of  explosive life-plumes in rich ecosystems do not foreshadow humankinds unalterable fate at the macro level.  These small ecological life-plumes that explode into existence, flourish, consume and destroy their sustaining resources, and then they die-0ut.

Anyway, it is hard to see that massive global income redistribution under the guise of environmentalism will solve our global human ecological life-plume problem.

On the other hand, it is easy to see that such a strategy can “kill the geese that lay the golden technological eggs” that may help solve ecological our delimma.  The consequences of this outcome could be as dire as those assumed by the global warming movement.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

The following is Charles Krauthammer’s article, The New Socialism. This article appeared at Townhall.com and in this Nation’s newspapers.

                                                                 _______________________________

WASHINGTON — In the 1970s and early ’80s, having seized control of the U.N. apparatus (by power of numbers), Third World countries decided to cash in. OPEC was pulling off the greatest wealth transfer from rich to poor in history. Why not them? So in grand U.N. declarations and conferences, they began calling for a “New International Economic Order.” The NIEO’s essential demand was simple: to transfer fantastic chunks of wealth from the industrialized West to the Third World.

On what grounds? In the name of equality — wealth redistribution via global socialism — with a dose of post-colonial reparations thrown in.

 The idea of essentially taxing hard-working citizens of the democracies in order to fill the treasuries of Third World kleptocracies went nowhere, thanks mainly to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and the debt crisis of the early ’80s). They put a stake through the enterprise.

 But such dreams never die. The raid on the Western treasuries is on again, but today with a new rationale to fit current ideological fashion. With socialism dead, the gigantic heist is now proposed as a sacred service of the newest religion: environmentalism.

 One of the major goals of the Copenhagen climate summit is another NIEO shakedown: the transfer of hundreds of billions from the industrial West to the Third World to save the planet by, for example, planting green industries in the tristes tropiques.

 Politically it’s an idea of genius, engaging at once every left-wing erogenous zone: rich man’s guilt, post-colonial guilt, environmental guilt. But the idea of shaking down the industrial democracies in the name of the environment thrives not just in the refined internationalist precincts of Copenhagen. It thrives on the national scale too.

 On the day Copenhagen opened, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claimed jurisdiction over the regulation of carbon emissions by declaring them an “endangerment” to human health.

Since we operate an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control. This means over a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. (The EPA proposes regulating emissions only above 25,000 tons, but it has no such authority.) Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life.

 This naked assertion of vast executive power in the name of the environment is the perfect fulfillment of the prediction of Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus that environmentalism is becoming the new socialism, i.e., the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society.

 Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet.

 Not everyone is pleased with the coming New Carbon-Free International Order. When the Obama administration signaled (in a gesture to Copenhagen) a U.S. commitment to major cuts in carbon emissions, Democratic Sen. Jim Webb wrote the president protesting that he lacks the authority to do so unilaterally. That requires congressional concurrence by legislation or treaty.

 With the Senate blocking President Obama’s cap-and-trade carbon legislation, the EPA coup d’etat served as the administration’s loud response to Webb: The hell we can’t. With this EPA “endangerment” finding, we can do as we wish with carbon. Either the Senate passes cap-and-trade, or the EPA will impose even more draconian measures: all cap, no trade.

 Forget for a moment the economic effects of severe carbon chastity. There’s the matter of constitutional decency. If you want to revolutionize society — as will drastic carbon regulation and taxation in an energy economy that is 85 percent carbon-based — you do it through Congress reflecting popular will. Not by administrative fiat of EPA bureaucrats.

Congress should not just resist this executive overreaching, but trump it: Amend existing clean air laws and restore their original intent by excluding CO2 from EPA control and reserving that power for Congress and future legislation.

Do it now. Do it soon. Because Big Brother isn’t lurking in CIA cloak. He’s knocking on your door, smiling under an EPA cap.

“Don’t Worry–Be Happy!”

December 16, 2009

“Don’t Worry–Be Happy!”

VTM, 12/16/09

Political Cartoon by Scott Stantis

By Scott Stantis from Townhall.com

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

By Chip Bok from Townhall.com

 

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

By Chip Bok from Townhall.com

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

By Chip Bok from Townhall.com

“I Advise The Gun”–Thomas Jefferson

December 15, 2009

“I Advise The Gun”–Thomas Jefferson

The following is a quote from the Founders Quote Daily

I have encountered this quote from Thomas Jefferson numerous times in my various readings–and I like it.  In my view the Second Amendment is a cornerstone of our freedom.  Therefore, I am please to present it to you on my blog.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, 12/15/09

                                        ———————————

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, 1785

                                     ———————————

Another quote from Founders Quote Daily that relates more directly to the Second Amendmant is the following:

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.” –Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787

Consequences Control!

December 14, 2009

Consequences Control!  

There are at least three levels of influence or selection by consequences that affect the lives of humans. The first is natural selection; the second is behavioral selection; and the third is cultural selection.

 Psychology’s Law of Effect (consequences control the future frequencies of behavior), is operational at all levels of our existence. The influence of consequences on our behavior are so pervasive and commonplace that we fail to see and appreciate one of the most important and pervasive mechanisms of life: Consequences powerfully shape our biological, psychological, and social existence. What we also fail to recognize, appreciate, and use wisely is that we, through our own cultural practices, significantly determine how consequences will affect our own biological, psychological and social existence.

 Natural Selection

 In natural selection, the biological existence of species are determined by their ability to interact with their physical environment effectively. As creatures behave within various environments (enriched and supportive or harsh and barren), the environments select certain species, or certain physical and genetic features within species, into and out-of existence. This natural selection process is called phylogenetic selection, or phylogenesis. Phylogenetic selection occurs throughout the life-span of all species. The environment “shapes” biological and biologically based behavioral adaptations by “reinforcing” them with food, water, warmth, escape from predators, and increased reproduction rates, etc.. The environment may also reduce or eliminate certain biological and biologically based behavioral adaptations by “withholding” these essential reinforcers and weakening or “extinguishing” them.

 This phylogenetic process is well documented and its mechanisms bear a marked similarity to the psychological principles of selection-by-consequences (reinforcement, punishment, and extinction) that “shape” the behavior of individuals within their own life-times.

 Behavioral Selection

 The scientific term for behavioral influences within the life-span of individuals is ontogenetic selection, or ontogenesis. A great many of the behavioral similarities and differences between the billions of people on planet earth are caused by more than genetic differences. The experiences that each individual have had in their own culture and coping with their own physical and social environments will yield vast differences in the ways that their personal behavior patterns have been shaped by the basic principles of reinforcement, punishment and extinction.

 Cultural Selection

 Cultures are behavioral in nature. The physical, geographical, and population of a society exists in a particular place in time. These things are easily observed. But a society’s culture refers to the rules, mores and folkways, sanctions, and the combined behavior patterns and practices of its population. A society may exist in an identifiable form for a very long time, but its culture may change so dramatically over time that the older cultural practices are replaced by new ones. Consequences strengthen or weaken cultural practices and consequences select sociocultures in, or out of, existence. A passive and peaceful culture may live until the barbarians invade it. An agrarian culture may prosper until it depletes its soil of nutrients. A nomadic culture in the Amazon basin may prosper until its forest is destroyed by entrepreneurs, then the nomadic culture may disappear.

 Cultures do not exist forever. Some live long and well, only to slowly weaken and evolve into vestiges of their former selves (i.e., early Greece and Rome, or perhaps our own Western Culture). Some cultures disappear entirely (Incas, Aztecs and Maya). And some mini-subcultures flicker for only moments in history before they die (i.e., the suicides of Reverend Jim Jones and his subculture in Guyana, South America in 1978 and the Heaven’s Gate Cult of Santiago, California in 1997). Sociocultures are selected-in or selected-out by the immediate and delayed social and physical consequences of their own actions.

The consequences of these cultural evolutions will further weaken citizen’s ability to produce competent and emotionally healthy children. These children will likely be even less competent as parents than their own parents were, and the downward cycle will accelerate. In short, if a culture fails to teach its children the beliefs and behaviors necessary to perpetuate that socioculture, it begins to weaken and may eventually collapse.

In other words the socioculture will not be reinforced with continued viability. This eventuality results because a world of essential sociocultural reinforcers will be unavailable. The natural laws of the universe dictate that if a culture fails to teach its children to obtain food, it will starve; if it fails to teach its children to love and care for children, future children will be neglected and abused; if it does not teach relevant intellectual skills, future citizens will be ignorant; if children are not taught to work hard and invent, economic failure will follow; and if children are not taught to love and defend their culture and its beliefs, they will be overrun and dominated by other cultures. Other losses will also be in evidence: freedom from the fear of crime, the ability to cope with international aggression, and the ability to care for the incompetent, sick and old. Cultural behaviors that lead to these outcomes will not enjoy the reinforcing consequences of continued success in our world.

 The psychological principles of reinforcement, punishment, and extinction are intricately involved in our outcomes at all three levels of selection by consequences. How skillful we and our socioculture are at using these behavior principles will determine our evolutionary success or failure.

A socioculture that fails to educate its young; fails to teach them to avoid early sex or pregnancy without the means to raise and care for their babies; fails to teach them to avoid inebriates and violence; and fails to teach them a strong set of culture sustaining morals and values, etc., will set the stage for its own incompetence and eventual decline.

V. Thomas Mawhiney, Ph.D.   12/14/09


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