Spiffy thoughts

The thoughts of a recovering disappointment.

It’s Not Mine

Posted by Ammon on February 16, 2016

Powerful insights from Terri Brady, just like always. Made me reflect: “Am I treating everything I do and say as if my life belongs to the one who created all things?”

Letters to Lindsey

I set the case down next to the sink. No, it might get wet. I thought. I picked it up and put the strap on my shoulder, so the prized possession was resting on my back, safe from water. A woman walked by behind me in the public bathroom and knocked my purse, which knocked the case, pulling the strap from my shoulder as gravity pulled the valuable toward the ground. With Elasto-girl’s flexibility and Jack-Jack’s incredible speed, my hand moved swiftly to grab the strap to avoid the camera hitting, while my purse finished the descent to the dirty floor. Fortunately, it was only my purse and not the camera!

I need to shorten this camera strap, I thought, so it doesn’t fall off again. But wait, it is not mine, so I don’t want to adjust anything in case the owner likes it at that exact length.

I…

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Is correct information enough?

Posted by Ammon on October 1, 2015

In the world of the Christians, there has historically been a problem.  Some non-Christians, may look at the plethora of Christian denominations and wonder, why so many?  What’s the difference if they’re all Christians?

Short answer: The difference is in the doctrine – the specifics about what they believe.

Long Answer: Some Christians will claim that as long as you believe in Christ and give your life to Him it doesn’t matter which denomination you join.  For many this is truly what they believe.  I agree with them … to some extent, but that’s not the topic of this post.  I agree that the most important thing is to truly have faith in and give your life to Christ.  After that your denomination is a relatively minor thing, though not completely irrelevant.  There are some doctrines that, if misunderstood, can lead to problems in both the temporal and spiritual sense.

I attended a leadership development event a couple of years ago where Orrin Woodward spoke and he said something that has my mind spinning and wanting to share what I learned.

He taught the process of Learn -> Do -> Teach.  He taught about the importance of doing something before you teach it to others.  Too often in our credentialist society, we shortcut the process by using a piece of paper that says we know what we are talking about as evidence of genuine authority, knowledge, and experience.

Paul taught “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  James 2: 26 (14-26)

Today, I read an article about Pope Francis’ visit to the United States and a speech he gave.  In the first few paragraphs of the article is a quote that I found profound.  Now, I’m not a catholic, but this quote really rang true to me.  He was speaking about avoiding blaming others, especially the youth or those that have been led astray from truth, for governmental action which goes contrary to the doctrine or beliefs of Christians.  He said:

“We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family,”

Too often, I get caught up in “rehearsing the problems of the world around us” and even the merits of Christianity” but neglect the importance of extending a sincere and caring hand to other people, inviting them to stand for what I believe is right and true.  I tend to think that because, intellectually, I consider myself to be right, that is enough.  That the disparity between my prolific rants and my feeble good deeds can be swept under the rug.

The question I pose to you: Is understanding something enough, or is real world application and practice necessary?

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Updated Principles and Values

Posted by Ammon on October 1, 2015

I have made some revisions to my document on Principles and Values which are more than cosmetic.   Take a look and tell me what you think.

https://spiffy3.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/principles-and-values/

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Smile

Posted by Ammon on September 14, 2015

A poem by my 11 y.o. son:
Alyn's poem

For those that struggle reading it:

Smile
Imagine just a simple smile
Keeping you happy for a little while
then you show it and pass in on
and make someone’s day a little more fun
so wear a smile not a frown
and help people up don’t push people down.

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The irony of identifying criticism

Posted by Ammon on August 31, 2015

I have recently wondered what it is about human nature that makes us want to point out the faults and mess ups of others – especially those who others regard with respect.  It’s almost as if there is an assumption that anybody who has achieved some level of respect Read the rest of this entry »

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Profit is, indeed, the tool of validation.

Posted by Ammon on June 12, 2014

There is an excellent explanation in the video below of how profit is, in fact, is the tool of validation (see “Principle 9” of the “13 Principles of Prosperity”, coined by Rick Koerber). Profit is a tool of motivation for the entrepreneur, but it is also the best tool to verify that what he does provides value for people in the marketplace (society).

 

 

I feel it is also important to discuss what I’m sure many of you are asking – “What about the profit that comes from something immoral?  Are you saying that it validates that?”

Yes, but not in the way you might be thinking.  Validation, in this sense, is simply a process of verification – a way to measure something apart from any value judgement.

Profit is not a measure of morality or virtue, it is simply information communicating to an entrepreneur that he/she is providing a product or service that other people value.  It does not remove the fact that people value immoral things.

Profit, then is not the problem when immoral things are profitable.  The problem is the demand for the immoral things.  Removing the profitability of an immoral thing does not end the demand.  Only an excellent education can fix the problem.

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And He Learned

Posted by Ammon on June 3, 2014

Very thought provoking and powerful blog post.

Rethink the Rant

When he noticed the naked little girl at the beach didn’t look quite like he did and asked why, they answered his questions in simple phrases painted in black and white, pink and blue, and tradition. And he learned that boys and girls were different.

When one of the neighbor kids painted his nails, they got angry. That wasn’t something boys did. And he learned that there were different rules for boys and girls, and that breaking those made people upset.

When he was handed down a pink bike from his cousin, they replaced it with a blue one, because they didn’t want him to be mocked for having a “girly” bike. And he learned that being girly was something to be mocked.

When he cried, they told him to be a man. And he learned that crying, and being not a man, was something less.

When he was being picked…

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Rebuttal to “The Life of Julia”

Posted by Ammon on May 10, 2012

This is my rebuttal to President Obama’s “The Life of Julia” campaign ad:This is a fallacy.  Like so many people in government sponsored conveyor belt education, President Obama thinks that children need more academics, earlier to succeed.  Until children have a good solid core phase (developing their sense and understanding of Good, Bad, Right, Wrong, True and False), which lasts until about the age of 8, they will end up more like 1930’s Germany than late 1700’s America.  Spending more money on educating more children earlier does nothing to help our nation become more free, or more prosperous.

This is based on the false idea that the purpose of education is to get a better job.  Preparing for college should be done by learning what your life mission is, and disciplining yourself to spend 8-10 hours / day studying what you need understand to accomplish it.  Standardized tests, standardized programs like Race to the Top do nothing to help in this program, but promote the tendency to teach to the test and not to a good solid understanding of anything.

Both of these programs are government handouts that take from someone who created value in society and give it to someone else.  This would be immoral if done by private citizens, therefore it is immoral for a government to do it.  Taking money using the authority of force is destruction.  Destruction is never productive, no matter how well intentioned the taker.

Insurance companies stay in business by taking calculated risks by charging according to the risks involved.  When forced by legislation to cover people they would not ordinarily cover, they will either need to raise rates or go out of business, thus providing less competition in the marketplace which will either increase costs to consumers, or decrease quality.  If I didn’t have more experience with the lack of depth that America’s colleges  have with any subject, but especially economics, it would be amazing to me that a former economics instructor would promote such a program.

Legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act are Racist, Sexist, and all around bigoted.  They assume that certain minority or “protected classes” are incapable of making their own decisions about what they agree to be paid when they choose to become employed.  This is what I believe was the motivation of the “Real Julia Rips Sexist Obama Ad” youtube video.

Capping loan payments will probably cause that Julia take longer  to pay off her student loans and thus be in debt a lot longer, paying the lender that much more in interest.  Controlling of interest rates is one of the major causes of inflation.

Again, requiring insurance to cover certain things that it wouldn’t otherwise cover, increases the risk for the insurance company, thus increasing costs and thus increasing premiums.  If premiums have a cap, insurance companies either go out of business or decrease the quality of their services.  Health Care decisions in the hands of her employer is the best place for them because Julia has more influence over her employer than she does over the Federal Government. Why in the world anybody thinks that it is better to trust the Federal Government and not their employer to treat them fairly, I am having a hard time figuring out.

Again with insurance and free services required by legislation, and not by a mutually beneficial agreement between the parties involved.  Need I repeat myself?

Again with government mandated standards and standardized programs.  See my comments for when Julia was 17.

 If this were the only thing that President Obama did that affected small businesses, it would be great.  However the costs of starting a small business are much higher under President Obama’s policies than they have been in many years.


Blah blah blah, requiring insurance companies to do something that is not in their interest … blah blah blah.  If insurance companies don’t create value to society, then why does everyone want the services that they offer?

If anything, this slide show has demonstrated how Julia has been dependent on other people more than contributing to society, now she will be receiving yet more money that is taken from others to support her.  The idea of retirement to “relax” is a sick and perverse idea.

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The problem of poverty

Posted by Ammon on November 15, 2011

I recently finished “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis.  It led me to quite a bit of introspection and contemplation. While the book doesn’t exactly say these words, I understood the main thesis of the book to be: while God does not cause our pain, he knows that it is necessary for us to grow, so he allows it for our experience and benefit.

Physical pain is our body’s natural way of sending us a message that Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defense of the “Self”

Posted by Ammon on April 28, 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with the writings of Ayn Rand.  I read her writings and can see some things that I feel are missing from what I understand as her ideal. Then I read a criticism of the heroes in her novels and I feel like they are misunderstanding and misrepresenting the reality of what her heroes demonstrate.

For example:

The hero of her novel Anthem, Equality 7-2521, at the end of the novel, now having named himself Prometheus, comes to believe that instead of living for the state, the brotherhood of mankind, or for others, the highest ideal is actually to live for oneself.  That he, as an individual, has no inherent or a priori obligation to any brotherhood of mankind, to any governmental institution, or to any other individual.  The only obligation he has is to himself.  He states:

I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms.  This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest.

I need no warrant for being, and no word of the sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.  It is my mind which thinks, and the judgment of my mind is the only searchlight that can find the truth.

It is my will which chooses, and the choice of my will is the only edict I must respect.

I find this idea intriguing, but easily taken in a direction which is deception.

My own first fundamental principle is “I am.”  In other words, before everything else, before any other truth or principle, I must recognize and embrace the fact that I exist and have worth first and foremost, to myself.  Anthem played a large part in helping me develop this fundamental principle.

The second of my fundamental principles is “God is.”  By which I mean that no less important, and inseparably related to recognizing and embracing the fact that I exist and have value to myself, is that I recognize and embrace that God exists and that my happiness is of worth to him – hence “I am.”

However, today I was reading another book which is already having a transformational effect on my understanding of truth, The Student Whisperer.  I’m only about 1/3 the way through the book, but it is really inspiring me.  In it one of the two authors, Tiffany Earl, is sharing some excerpts from her study journal, written as a student at George Wythe College.  These are her criticisms of the same messages in Anthem:

Ayn Rand rejected the imitation and simultaneously refected the “real thing.”  She rejected communism with its “two-headed dragon” of terror and force and all its inherent evils, the indignity it bring upon mankind.  And like a person who rejects imitation vanilla as not quite cutting it and at the same time decides to discard all vanilla, Ayn Rand rejects the imitation brotherhood and also throws out the real brotherhood in her writings.  But in her heart of hearts she held to the real, though her words denied it.  Her whole life was dedicated to mankind, lifting them from the yoke of force, terror, Communism.  It’s ironic really.

Actually, I don’t think it’s that ironic if she had truly understood what Ayn Rand felt in her heart of hearts.  I believe Ayn Rand would argue that she did not dedicate her life to mankind, but to her own desire to have a world free from the Communism she experienced as a youth.  She would say she was not motivated by any sense of obligation to mankind, but by her, as she would likely put it, selfish desire to see “communism with its ‘two-headed dragon’ of terror and force” destroyed.

The student, Tiffany Earl makes the erroneous assumption that when Prometheus declares:

I shall call to me all the men and the women whose spirit has not been killed within them and who suffer under the yoke of their brothers.  They will follow me and I shall lead them to my fortress.

That he “actually does feel an obligation to the brotherhood.” And thus sees an apparent contradiction in the book.

However, I see an important difference between wanting others who are like minded and want the intellectual freedom he can offer to be with him and to associate with such people, and a feeling of obligation toward these same people.  He is not making a statement about what he needs, or has an obligation to perform, but a statement about what he wants and what he believes will help him achieve happiness.

The way I see it, this is no different than God.  God does not need anybody to do his work.  He is perfectly able to accomplish, on his own, anything that he wants accomplished.  Nor does he do his work out of a sense of obligation toward us.  My religious beliefs include a doctrine that God wants us to be with Him and enjoy the same things He enjoys – to be like him.  That is the motivation behind everything He does.  Not out of a sense of obligation, nor out of a need of his to have us be like him.  If it’s not immoral for God to be motivated by nothing other than the furthering of his own purposes and will, why would it be immoral for those, whom he wants to be like him, to do the same?

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