Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Torture, waterboarding, and Christianity?!

To torture or not to torture? That is the question.
If the end justifies the means is anything to harsh? And when does harsh become inhumane? Are you willing to traumatize someone by using their inner most fear against them? Is cutting off someones fingers, hoping they will tell you the information you want to know, going to far? What is torture? What is waterboarding; is it like a swirly or a wet willey, or a drowning feeling?
These are some of the questions I have been asking myself for the past few weeks. Then today I stumble upon this little nugget:
"When it comes to defending the lives of the unborn, most evangelicals utterly reject utilitarian ethics. Life is sacred, and all people—even the unborn—are created in the image of God. But this belief is put to the test when the life in question is that of a suspected terrorist. Do we really believe all human life is sacred or only innocent life? Are all people created in God's image or only those not labeled "enemy combatants"?" From Christianity Today go read it, it's short.
I had to reevaluate my position, or at least define it. I want my country to be safe, but not at the expense of dehumanizing suspected terrorists. Even if they are a known terrorist, removing human rights is wrong. There are still ways to interrogate suspects, get the information you need, and remain humane. Even the definition of torture says pain must be intentional and severe. Thus creating an objective what is 'severe'?

I don't see anything positive about torture, though I definitely see the benefits of obtaining information from a suspect. Please, let's be humane, and be better than those that wish us harm.

I've heard it said that "What if it was my family member that was held hostage, with the threat of life or rape; then I probably wouldn't mind the use of whatever means necessary". Hopefully that situation will never occur, but if it did I would pray first for the will of God to be served, then pray for the strength of character to do what is right in the face of great evil.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What's up with MLMs?

MLMs (Multi level Marketing; AKA Network marketing).
Examples: Amway(Quixtar), MaryKay, Avon, and many many more.

After my wife did a short run (about a year) with Mary Kay Cosmetics, we ended up short about $2grand and decided to call it quits. This apparently is a similar scenario with thousands of others.
"The largest MLM company, Amway/Quixtar, and hundreds of others, such as Nuskin, Herbalife, Melaleuca and Nikken, operate it in such a way that 99.9% of all people who invest will never earn a net profit."-FalseProfits
Unfortunately Sarah's recruiter started her off on the wrong foot. There is a good way and a bad way to get into any business venture, and going in with a poor understanding of how it operates is definitely a bad way. Had she gone in with the idea that she would just use these products herself, and if her friends wanted to use them as well, great. If we were able to stick to that it may have been a different result. Many factors including her recruiter, her personality type, stocked product, and the business model shortened the life span of her fledgling business.
I've been looking at home businesses myself, because, like most, I would enjoy having a little extra income. I'm not afraid to work for it, not afraid to sell. I am concerned with 'using' my friends and family as my test subjects. Which is the case for most, if not all, MLMs. I also see it as a poor business model. There are similar products for sale over the counter at traditional store fronts, and in most cases it's cheaper. It's cheaper because you don't have to pay your recruiters recruiters recruiter. MLMs are known as pyramid(or matrix) schemes because for the most part you make money not because of the product you sell, but by enlisting other sellers to work under you.
These companies have great products (sometimes superior to store bought) to sell (Avon, Amway, MaryKay) but at what cost? Sure the financial cost is obvious. But what about relationships. Can you afford to be sitting down across the table from your good friend and basically begging them to buy your product so you can pay rent?
Realize that most people who get into the business do it to get discounts on the product, and not to resell it. Which ends the pyramid and makes it harder for the person who wants to make it a full time job. The 'bonuses' you can receive from recruiting will offset your own purchases and therefor encourages you to recruit rather than sell the product. At some point there is a market saturation of recruiters (sellers) and product so that everyone is struggling to sell or recruit. Face it, no product is so good and at the right price that EVERYONE will get on board. There is a breaking point, and since these MLMs don't know and perhaps don't care what that breaking point is they just keep pushing more and more to sell/recruit. At some point they are telling everyone you can be a winner, but they are only hiring people who will lose.

I'd like to make more money and these 'get rich quick' schemes are just that schemes. If they sound to good to be true they probably are. Some people make money, but most people lose money on (or just purchase product) with these companies. I am realizing that to increase my income I need to focus on my current job and get a promotion, because seeking additional income from other sources requires more time. That would take away from what family time I currently enjoy.

Something in my gut says stay away from these as a form of income. Call it discernment, logic, or whatever. I pray for guidance to do the right thing for me and my family. I hope for the same for you and yours.


Summary of What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing

  1. MLMs are "doomed by design" to recruit too many salespeople, who in turn will then attempt to recruit even more salespeople, ad infinitum.

  2. For many, the real attraction of involvement in multi-level marketing is the thinly veiled pyramid con-scheme made quasi-legal by the presence of a product or service.

  3. The ethical concessions necessary to be "successful" in many MLM companies are stark and difficult to deal with for most people.

  4. Friends and family should be treated as such, and not as "marks" for exploitation.

Monday, May 4, 2009

2012 dun dun dunnnn...

It's the End of the world as we know it.
Or so plenty of people think.

So the Earth WILL end one day, it's inevitable, but WHEN will it end is the question. I think at this current point in time NO ONE can say anything definite. There have been speculations about the end since the beginning of the Earth(think 1st century, 2000, and just about every year in between). But we are still here!

So why now are people on the 2012 boat?
Maybe it has to do with:
  • The Mayan Calendar starts a new cycle in Dec. 2012
  • President Obama ends his 1st term in 2012
  • the Sun is on an 11yr cycle set to end in 2012
  • The current economic situation is speculated to go out to 2012
  • Earth Magnetic poles are estimated to switch any time now, possibly around 2012

So how COULD it happen, or perhaps, how to people THINK it could happen...
A selection from 2012 Bast Theory
  • Flu Pandemic - Swine Flu anyone?
  • Nuclear War / WW3 / Biological War- North Korea, Iran
  • Large Hadron Collider - Going on under Europe right now
  • Religious Apocalypse - Welcome back Jesus
  • Nuclear Accident - chernobyl
  • Rise of the Machines - Anyone seen Matrix or Terminator
  • Asteroid/Meteor/Comet - poof
  • Coronal Mass Ejection (CRE) from our Sun- Knock out Earth electronics, send us spiralling into a world wide crisis, massive deaths due to starvation, war, sickness.
  • Magnetic Pole Shift- Everyone would feel upside down? toilets everywhere would flush backwards.
  • Supervolcano - liquid hot magma
  • Ice Age (Global Cooling) - Canadians would need to move down to USA to avoid being buried under glaciers.
  • Global Warming- Thanks Al Gore.
Just some quick thoughts this morning, as this has been a topic of discussion between me and few people this week.