Category Archives: News and Society

Columbine a Decade Later

Columbine a Decade Later

Well, here we are. Ten years to the day since that horrific day in Littleton, Colorado. A day that forever changed history in the world of Peer Abuse and bullying. It is a day that is hard to comprehend and a day that has left many to speculate. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris came to Columbine High School and created what is the greatest school massacre in US History. They killed 12 students, wounded 23 others then killed themselves. After this event, we all started to speculate as to why this happened and heard reasons from Harris being a psychopath, a love of violence, they were bullied and isolated and of course video games. Lets not forget the media, parenting skills and the fact they did not know Jesus. All could be a reason for what happened and make for a good argument in all of this. All could have factored into it. I have seen homemade videos they made while planning this event as they came out later in the news. In the videos, they share a love of violence, ground zero which was the school and the jocks and others who they believed acted superior to them. I saw a lot of anger, frustration and cries for help in the videos. Two bright young men who could have had bright futures but instead felt the world let them down. Well guess what? The world did fail them and in my opinion, we still do.

Lets face it folks. These boys were bullied and this came out in a loud manner soon after the fact. I have heard many stories about the abuse they suffered at school. People started listening and paying attention and this gave a whole new meaning to bullying. It jumpstarted many programs, books, websites and experts coming out of the wood work. Then people explored other factors like the fact that Eric was homicidal, they played too many video games and were just plain evil. One thing that I have seen for the zillionth time is societies need to once again excuse this problem. No, it was not the bullying at all! The videos say it all and these boys were homicidal and just plain bad. Yes, have heard it all ad nauseam. It makes me sick to be honest. Were these so called people actually students at Columbine when this occurred? Were they tight with Dylan, Eric or their families? The initial feedback led us all back to the fact that they were bullied and in large doses. So why try and excuse this once again? Where do investigators go to find answers? They go to the source. The source was the school and the feedback given was the boys were bullied. Who gave the information? People at the school. Think about it, folks.

On this day, I pose questions to those who are reading this. If these boys were not bullied then why was ground zero the school? Why not Target, grocery stores or laundromats? A church, playground or the local mall? The local hangout for the kids in Littleton? They could have gone anywhere in the community yet they went to the school. Also, why did they mention jocks and those who they felt wronged them in the videos? Because a video game told them to?

Its been ten years and this event woke society up to the fact that bullying might actually be a problem. Programs are set up, books are written and the mindset is changing. However, we have a way to go in this. This is still not seen as a clinical problem nor is it considered what it really is and that is abuse. Elder Abuse became an issue after Columbine and it is already listed on government forms and that angers me because this is not. On this day, please take a minute and get serious about this! Take a minute to educate someone you know. Help raise awareness and do something kind for someone else. My condolences to all who lost someone in this tragedy. It could have been prevented with a little awareness and education from society. Hopefully the excuses will stop and folks will see this for what it is and that is abuse; Peer Abuse!

Pepper Spray Ring is a Girls Best Friend

Pepper Spray Ring is a Girl's Best Friend

One day Josh is on the internet and he sees a website for self defense products and there on one of the pages is a beautiful gleaming Pepper Spray Ring that says, “The most beautiful piece of jewelry you will ever own”! He thinks it looks rather interesting because after all, guys are always interested in gadgets. As he reads on, he discovers that the ring comes in sizes 6-14 and is offered in both silver and gold plating with a genuine black onyx stone. He thinks about his girlfriend going to school and having to walk across campus at night and it makes him really nervous about her safety.

The article says that the Pepper Spray Ring is a beautiful self-defense ring with pepper spray enclosed inside. If offers safety, elegance and confidence for both men and women. If your stuck in a bad situation every second counts. Hunting for the pepper spray in your purse or pocket may not be the best decision when you need to take split-second action. Well that certainly is true. When you are scared out of your wits you don’t think very rationally.

The Pepper Spray Ring contains the strongest dose of pepper spray available. It sprays a 12 inch pattern that can nauseate, burn and temporarily disarm your attacker, but causes no permanent injury. The effects of the spray will last about 45 minutes. If you use the contents of the ring you can purchase a refill canister from your dealer.

Josh is going to ask the love of his life to marry him and he really likes the idea of the Pepper Spray Rings. Why not order 2 matching rings and do it all up in one glorious, special evening. He makes all his plans and the night arrives, she is dying of curiosity.

What is he planning that could possibly be so important. He tells her how important she is to him and how he would die if anything happened to her. He could not live without her. Then he pulls out two ring boxes. She is confused and bewildered. Enthusiastically he tells her how he knows that diamonds are a girls’ best friend but this beautiful black onyx  Pepper Spray ring will keep her safe when she is alone. He says that it will give him peace of mind. He hopes she will accept it and wear it always when she is out by herself. Josh told her that he bought one for himself too. This would be their little secret, matching black onyx rings, their most important piece of jewelry.

She looked grateful but a little disappointed because she had anticipated getting a diamond. Just then Josh pulls out another ring box and asks her to marry him.

Now maybe this sounds a little corny but the principal idea is good. The Pepper Spray Ring is inconspicuous, easy to use and gives you a way out of a sticky situation. Besides, what better way is there to protect someone you love.

Is Jesus God? Love is the Answer

Is Jesus God?  Love is the Answer

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8. NIV.

There are many good, clear verses in Scripture which teach us that Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:1-4, etc.).

There is also the truth that Jesus is God, in fact, has to be God, because of God’s love.

The above verse in Romans says that God demonstrated His love for us by having Christ die for us.

To this we can add John 3:16-17, which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

While God shows His love to humanity in many ways every day, Christ’s death for our sins was the primary way that God showed us His love. To see why this means that Jesus had to be God, let’s think about ways that one person can show love to another.

At the basic level is through words. One can say, “I love you.” That is nice, and depending on the length of the relationship, maybe a bit risky, but there is no cost or sacrifice involved. Three words said or penned (hopefully not texted if it’s for the first time) and that is all.

We know that merely saying words, without any action, doesn’t mean very much. When loving actions follow the words, then we see true love. And the greater the love, the greater one is willing to pay or sacrifice (as able) to show his or her love.

The first way of acting our ones love may be to buy a present for the beloved. This is doing more than just saying, “I love you.” While it’s not a huge sacrifice, it is a start.

After this, one may help someone without thought or expectation of repayment- a sacrifice of ones time.

We can go gradually up the ladder of sacrifice until we come to ones life. Surely, as we can understand love, there is no greater sacrifice than to give ones life for another. We can give of our time, money, and material possessions, all to various degrees. But the ultimate show of ones love is to give ones life.

This is why Jesus Christ had to be God.

God could say, “I love you.” to humanity and leave it there, but that would not mean a lot in and of itself.

God could also demonstrate His love through His blessings and fellowship, which are wonderful to be sure, but that would still fall short of the ultimate demonstration of His love.

Could God have sent an angel to die for the sins of humanity, or any other type of created being? Had He done so, this would have been a demonstration of His love, granted, but it would have been a detached love. Love at arms length. This would be a false representation of God’s love for humanity, because it would not be falling short of how much God really loves us.

This is why God Himself had to die for humanity. There would be no greater demonstration, no greater example of God’s love than for Him to truly become one of us, and die on our behalf.

While there is a mystery to God becoming a man and then dying, there is no mystery as to what this sacrifice says about God’s love for all people. We can all understand and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice of one person giving his life for another.

It is no accident that while the Bible talks about God’s blessings and goodness, how He answers our prayers and is always with us, when it comes to God’s love for humanity, only one example is given.

The death of Jesus Christ, God as a true human being.

The Bleeding Edge of the Car Biz

The Bleeding Edge of the Car Biz

Goldman Sachs thinks you can make 40% on Ford. I think that figure should be a lot closer to 400%.

China has finally, truly and wholeheartedly embraced “21st century American-style capitalism.”

God help them.

Here’s the headline that popped up on one of my news feeds a day or so ago: “Chinese Carmakers Record Sales.”

That’s right, in the middle of a yearlong global recession, China is selling more cars than ever before. Skimming down through the article, one notes that sales of minivans are up some 40% Q1 2008 to Q1 2009.

China’s “Recession”

How can this be true? Isn’t China suffering too as depressed American and European consumers decline to buy their cheap T-shirts and lead-painted gewgaws?

Actually, China’s version of recession is a tad different than ours. It did indeed miss its target of a blistering 8% annualized growth rate for the first quarter of 2009, settling instead for a “mere” 6.1%, a figure for which most any Western finance minister would sell his children.

But even the threat of China’s growth approaching the ever-so-sluggish global norm threw Beijing into a printing tizzy as early as last November. Now 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) might sound like a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars Washington is inventing on a weekly basis. But then again, Beijing is only trying to keep its ball rolling along, while Washington is trying restart a mired economy.

But it isn’t just the fact that China is stimulating from the top down that is so fascinating. It is, after all, quite experienced at this whole centralized command economy idea that we are just cozying up to. It’s how it is going about it that has me laughing into my morning coffee.

A Gift From Uncle

Last month, Beijing began disbursing some 5 billion yuan ($731 million) into the hinterland to encourage folks to purchase new minivans. Now to my wife, the phrase “minivan” brings to mind a 4,500 lb. monster with a large six-cylinder engine replete with a quality sound system, electric doors, seats, windows and mirrors. Oh, and maybe a DVD player (we didn’t get one last time around, and they have been hassling me about it ever since).

However, when a Chinese family goes into their local dealership with their check from Uncles Wen and Hu, they find a remarkably different vehicle available to them. It generally has an engine half the size of an American van, which is okay since it hauls about half the curb weight.

If you are really lucky, the windows roll down by hand. Leather seats or airbags? As cousin Frank from Newark says, “Fergeddaboudem!” You want tunes? Learn to whistle. The good news is, these cheap little grocery haulers really are cheap. They only run about 33,000 yuan ($4,400) which comes to roughly 80% of the average Chinese citizen’s annual wage.

But is this spike in the sales of cheap vans truly good news? Or are China’s car companies traveling down the same road that brought GM and Chrysler to their corporate knees?

Death of a Thousand Cuts

In an attempt to increase fleet gas mileage and stretch its yuans a little further, Beijing is strongly suggesting that the checks be spent on smaller vehicles. It also has cut taxes in half on vehicles with engines smaller than 1.7 liters.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Xu Liuping, CEO of China’s number four manufacturer, Changan Automobile Group, recently warned at the Shanghai Autoshow, “Small cars mean small margins. There may be vehicle sales growth for the industry this year, but revenue and profit may fall.”

DongFeng Motor Corp.’s Liu Weidong further whined that “the auto industry no longer has extraordinary profit margins. Companies have been adjusting prices because of the government’s industry stimulus policies and to boost sales.”

“We Want a Piece of That Action Too!”

Yeah, that’s right: The Chinese aren’t making money selling small cars anymore than the Americans were. You want one more weird fold in the story? GM, who was so totally unprepared when gas skyrocketed here in the States, wants into the Chinese market in the worst way.

In fact, on the same Shanghai podium where Mr. Xu complained of profit difficulties, GM’s Kevin Wale bragged that China was a “very important market” and announced that GM (already a stakeholder in China’s biggest minivan maker) intends to double sales over the next five years.

Keep in mind that even that mighty global micro-car expert Toyota (TM:NYSE) cannot make a buck in China these days, as most of its line is considered “too large” to qualify for the subsidies that are driving this market. In fact, Toyota’s in-country partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group, actually registered a drop in sales and profits on Toyota’s offerings.

The Poisonous Teat

Kind of puts the lie to the idea most any manufacturer can do well while suckling at the government teat, eh? Which brings us back here to the States, where Ford (F:NYSE) – the only American builder to turn down Washington’s largesse – has posted yet another stellar week on its “Way Forward.”

Since hitting $1.01 last November, Detroit’s “Last Man Standing” has risen to $4.41. As you might imagine, a rise like that actually garners a little notice on Wall Street.

And so, after F shares have already gained some 194%, those bold folks at Goldman Sachs have actually shifted their stance from “neutral” to “buy.” Goldman’s Patrick Archembault even went so far as to predict that F could hit $6 in the next six months. Of course, he also larded his statement heavily with warnings that “an investment in Ford is not for risk-averse investors.”

Where Angels Fear to Tread?

Wow, that’s really putting it out there, Pat!

Come on, folks: It’s become god-awful obvious that most any investment in American Blue Chips stands a good chance of getting cut off at the knees these days. We don’t need GS’s caviling when plain old experience can tell us that!

But it is ridiculous to wince about like this when there is so much money to be made by being even just a little bold. Let me show you what I mean…

How to Trade the Car Biz

Back in March, when Goldman was still sitting on its thumbs, I asked WaveStrength Options Weekly readers to take a chance on some Ford call options. They cost a measly 80 bucks per contract. So far as downside risk is concerned, well, if you can’t afford to lose $40, you’re pretty much done.

As I sit to write, those calls are now worth $242 per contract. That’s a gain of 203% in about four weeks. And when Ford hits GS’s $6 target (which I will tell you right now will happen a lot sooner than six months), those calls will in all probability hit $400, rounding gains up to a neat 400%.

I am not bragging here (okay, maybe a little). Heck, I’m just a poor scribe operating out of a loft in downtown Baltimore. But don’t you think that that’s the kind of advice we ought to be expecting from Archembault and his friends in New York?

Privacy – Claiming Your Rights!

Privacy - Claiming Your Rights!

In the name of fighting terrorists and criminals, all governments are now greedily reducing people’s privacy – to a degree that is a serious threat to our fundamental freedom rights!

The old wisdom of Benjamin Franklin is more relevant today than ever: “Those who are willing to give up even a small fraction of their liberty in order to achieve some protection deserve neither liberty nor protection.” We might add, “- and will not obtain any of those either!”

The problem is very old. It was the start of the feudal medieval ages that made a few noblemen very rich and the majority of the population very poor.

It is a fact of history that those “protectors” want to get paid for their services, and, once they have the power, they demand more payment – and offer fewer services, eventually none. But they still demand payment….

The modern “noblemen” are the big commercial enterprises (bankers!) that control the government bureaucrats, through their lobbying and bribery. They need the government to pay its debt to them – so they need to support the government in getting more taxes! In fact, both the government as such, as well as its individual representatives, are at gunpoint in regards to honoring the demands from the powers-that-be – the big creditors who have lent government money. Big money.

Unfortunately, because most people are too lazy, too comfortable, too busy, too ignorant, too uneducated, too misinformed, or too brainwashed, a revolution is not very likely to happen, and even less likely to be successful.

The question then becomes “How can YOU escape this slavery and re-establish some privacy, at least for yourself and your family?”

The answer is that you need to establish a second identity for this. No, you don’t need any false passport. And you do not need any counterfeit documents. This can be done completely legally, in accordance with the very same rules as the government uses to control you!

The trick is that you must do it (or have it done), so that your personal liabilities are disconnected from this new identity. You cannot create that second ID in your capacity of government slave, i.e. by using any government owned ID for you. So, opening a bank account in a foreign country and submitting to that bank a copy of your driver’s license is putting you right back at square one! You have to act as a sovereign individual that does not depend on government, by completely abstaining from using government owned ID to do it.


No. But absolutely possible – when you accept that it takes that you start educating yourself about the true nature about the government’s tricks and exactly where the limits of its powers go.

Economic Recovery, Or More Suffering?

Economic Recovery, Or More Suffering?

We all know the problem. We call hard economic times a depression. Our ancestors lived through the Great Depression, including my grandparents. How did they survive? They farmed, had a garden, did canning and did without things if they could not afford them. She had one dress to wear and one to wash. She owned two pair of shoes.

What do people need to survive? They need shelter, water, food and clothing. They need reasonable health care according to each unique situation.

No one enjoys talking about hard times or what caused it. Yet, if we ignore it nothing good will come out of it. It will pass and there is hope. Some of the happiest people I ever met were considered poor.

Credit is borrowing from a lender. Interest is what the lender charges to make a profit and stay in business. If we do not pay back the money we borrowed, it is stealing. Have we become a nation of thieves? So we admit our mistakes and start paying something each month. We have to look at the differences between wants and needs. Doing without something you desire will mean you will have to find something else to do with your time. Greed caused these problems.

During the Depression, people moved to where there were jobs. There were food kitchens and the grain operators and chicken owners helped their neighbors. They canned what they grew in their gardens. It was considered stylish to be overweight, because it was a sign of wealth.

When creditors call, tell them you will make arrangements to pay them back and make a small payment each month. If they call too often, tell them you will correspond through the mail. Make sure it is not a criminal trying to make you think you owe money that you do not.

One man I spoke with said it is good to try to get all you can from our government. All I could think of was what former President Kennedy said. He said, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

It may take ten to twenty years for things to get back on track, but there is nothing wrong with being poor. They are happy people most of the time.

Comparing Sustainable Commercial Carpet – What Products Make the Cut and What Mills Are Really Green

Comparing Sustainable Commercial Carpet - What Products Make the Cut and What Mills Are Really Green

Architects, designers and owners all have a difficult challenge when it comes to sorting out the claims made by manufacturers regarding green products. Particularly since some carpet reps will make knucklehead statements like, “hey, my carpet can give you 14 LEED points. Specify this and you will be green.” But there are some simple tips that can help to make the process easier. Start with the obvious first. Ask each competing manufacturer on any RFP or RFI process one simple question; can you turn your standard running line product back into itself and keep it out of the landfill forever? The follow-up to that is; does your response meet the Federal Trade Commission guidelines for marketing claims? If the answer is no to these questions you can stop right there.

Any manufacturer in 2009 that cannot do this and claims to be green is either not committed to sustainability or has not been committed to sustainability and it has finally caught up with them. Taking care of the products that you put into the environment and closing the loop should be priority one for any manufacturer that claims to be sustainable. It is intellectually dishonest to manufacture and sell millions of yards of materials and send them into the market without having a daily solution for the material that you make at the end of its useful life. There are no amounts of trees you can plant to make up for that fact.

These 2 questions and answers get to the heart of a sustainable product. They answer the key question of whether or not a manufacturer is responsible about the products they are putting into the office environment and if they have an operational recycling center to provide a cradle-to-cradle solution for the raw materials that they took out of the natural environment. If a manufacturer answers yes to these questions, they should provide a signed guarantee document from an officer of the company promising that the material will not be stored, land filled or burned and that it will all be turned into new product.

Perhaps an even larger sustainable question is; how long have your products been proven to last in the commercial market? The first test of sustainability is long-term performance. A product made from biodegradable materials such as PLA that lasts 5 years or less before it falls apart or uglies out and can not be cleaned is hardly sustainable. The longer the performance the more sustainable it is economically for all parties and the less energy it takes to recycle it back into itself. Therefore, the next tip that might help architects is to ask a manufacturer; how long has your product performed in the market place in high traffic areas with your current backing system? Ten years should be the minimum and 20 years is a much better target with references to speak with about the product performance. The key here is to have the product performing without problems.

Product problems such as backing delaminating from the face product, tuft bind issues, edge ravel, shrinking, curling, cupping are all non-sustainable products because they cause the owner and all involved unnecessary energy, capital, and time. These problems also cause disruption in the work environment and often lead to the remaking of product causing more raw materials to be used, more energy to be spent, and more capital to be wasted. Ideally, a sustainable product would use less energy, less cost over time and be easier to manage. At the end of it’s useful life, hopefully 20, 30, or 40 years, the used materials would then be sent back on a green shipping carrier to the original manufacturer’s environmental recycling center and turned back into new flooring for another generation of use.

Imagine if our automobiles lasted 40 years like some vinyl backed products and were then recycled back into new cars. We could actually pass the materials from our favorite Ford truck down to our children or even our children’s children. Now that would be something! Yes, I have a dream. But for now, that is only possible with certain carpet products and we’ll have to wait to see what auto manufacturer is the first cradle-to-cradle provider. In the meantime, keep specifying sustainable carpet and compare them honestly.