Friday, April 30, 2010

The real deal?

I must say, I was a bit skeptical when I first picked up this book. A former mob boss and son of a mob boss in the Colombo Crime Family who was responsible for making money for the mob writing a book about business.

It seemed to me that it was either another one of those guys blowing off steam about how he used to be big time or the book would be full of tips on how to land in prison, like he did.

But it looks like this guy is the real deal.

In a previous book, Michael Franzese talks about how God (and a girl) turned his life around and how he turned himself in for a Federal Rap, spent time in prison and rebuilt himself and his a different direction.

This book looks at he business principles that he used to make money for the mob. While he cautions against the unethical, immoral and illegal practices criminal syndicates participate in, he strongly believes that he learned some principles that can be applied to any upright, honest business to help make it profitable and effective. That is why he wrote this book..

Here is a little something from the end of this book that resonates with me:

"Take time to reevaluate your idea of success. Sweeter and richer are not always mutually inclusive. If your idea of success is cheating you out of life, you need to make some changes." p149.

Here is a little video about Michael:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona's New ILLEGAL Immigration Law

With all the hue and cry about the new law Arizona passed in reference to illegal immigrants, I have been asked on numerous occasions what I think about it. While I realize that the question is usually a conversation starter so the asker can give their opinion, I am still going to, for you my friends, weigh in with some thoughts.

First of all, I don't understand the hue and cry about it being a tool to promote racism. I am sure someone will be kind enough to explain to me why it is any more of a tool for racism than the federal law is, which is essentially the same. The Governor thought that using Law Enforcement to help restrict illegal immigration would be beneficial, since the Federal Government has obviously not got a handle on the problem (despite remarks to the contrary from some of those who are our leaders in this arena).

To make whether or not people get in trouble for breaking the law into a civil rights issue is, to me, only a political expedient. To say that a state law that mirrors a federal one is "misguided" is, to me, only a political expedient. Maybe if they do get the Arizona Law ruled as unconstitutional it will set a vivid precedent to overturn Federal Law.

That being said, it could cause some problems. If local law Enforcement is really supposed to arrest all the illegal immigrants they come across, the jails will almost instantaneously be overcrowded. Who is going to pay for all the new tent cities we have to build to house them until they can see the judge?

Another problem: many of those who would like to come here looking for work would have no idea how to do it legally. I don't know if you have ever dealt with federal bureaucracy (for those that have not yet had that pleasure, in a few years you will get to with your health care decisions), but it really is a tangled mess. Immigrants are and have always been an important part of our country and our economy, but one of the issues that needs to be addressed is the tangled mess of how to get people that are actually willing to work and contribute into our country.

Obviously, it is not an issue that will soon be resolved.

Here is some more for you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Local Wrangling over more taxes

In Arizona, we are being asked to consider a 1% increase in our sales tax. Most of this money is slated to go towards Education and Public Services, such as health and public safety. The tax will be voted on in a special election.

It seems unlikely to me, that in a time of everyone having to tighten their belts, that people will go down to the polls just so they can vote on having to pay even more tax whenever they go out to buy anything. But then, the tax is supposed to make sure we can pay for education and Public Safety.

It seems that whenever we are asked to shell out even more money, it is always couched in the idea that if we don't acquiesce, we won't be able to pay for schools and firemen. You don't want to be the one that robs a child of his future and then lets his mom die because the fire station was shut down, do you?

Is the tax needed? Maybe the State has gotten itself into such a fix that we won't be able to keep doing business as usual without it. On the other hand, maybe business as usual needs to change.

Whatever your opinion, if you live here, you can express it at the polls. If you want to know a bit more, here are a couple of recent articles about it:

Arizona's Budget Crisis: How Did We Get Here and Where Are We Going?

Deciding how to vote on Proposition 100

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Historical Frustration

"Are these the men with whom I am to defend America!?!"
George Washington

Ever been a little frustrated with the people you have to work with or the situations you find yourself in? I know that, from time to time, even I get that way.

If you have ever felt that way, you are in some good company. George Washington was there in 1776 when he was battling for Manhattan. As the New York Militia faced off against the Hessians (the storied German mercenaries) and the famous Scott's Highlanders, they broke and ran. Washington even rode towards the line himself and tried in vain to rally his men.

Finally, in anger and frustration, he threw his hat on the ground and cried out, "Are these the men with whom I am to defend America!?!" After that, he had to be dragged away by his aides as he waited alone, on horseback, for the oncoming enemy.

we are dissappointed with what we have been given to accomplish the job that we have before us. But sometimes we are being a little too hasty. Washington's men went on to endure the winter at Valley Forge and numerous victories in the time to come. Maybe you what you have to work with isn't as bad as you think. While your army may not yet be able to crush the world's top light infantry, they have some other things going for them.

Or, perhaps you are focusing on the negatives a little too much. While the Continental Army was retreating, a meager force of 250 Marylanders covered the retreat by attacking Cornwallis' main army. Naming these men
"The Old Line," Washington remarked, "Good God, what brave fellows I must lose this day."

Remember, even when things look like they are going nowhere with the people and situations you are faced with, all is not lost until all is lost.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Raffi Paloulian

With what seems like an unusual spike in earthquakes in recent weeks, I have heard different theories on why this might be happening.

Some, like Danny Glover, would say that because we are not being nice to Mother Earth, we get shook up. Others say that it is a sign that The End is near.

I was watching Conspiracy Theory last night, and I am kind of in favor of a theory put forward in that movie. The President was due to be in Turkey and the Space Shuttle was going to aim a beam at the earth and shake it up, in hopes of killing the President. I also saw on the news last night that the shuttle Columbia has been up there and docking at the International Space Station. Perhaps........

The reality is that the Earth is broken and it will come to and end. Whether or not that will happen in our lifetime, no-one knows.

Here is the USGS site
that lists all the recent earthquakes and Raffi Paloulian is the name the Mel Gibson's character has on his cab driver's license. I think he is also someone who worked on the film as a grip.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Continuing the Week of Remembrance

This wraps up the Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust. I hope you took a few moments this week to reflect on the horrors that were visited upon the Jewish Nation, and many others, during those days.

Part of our Days of Remembrance this year included attending the Night to Honor Israel at the U of A Campus put on by the U of A chapter of CUFI.

The Opening remarks were by Tim Bee and the keynote speaker of the evening was Dennis Prager.

A couple of remarks that struck me. Dennis Prager commented on how many of the Arab Nations would much rather see Israel destroyed than they would want to see a Palestinian state formed, which they have stated and demonstrated.

Another man, who works on behalf of Israel in some capacity, which I didn't really catch because I was no longer focusing by the time he got up to say something, said he is called to the campus to make statements and such whenever someone is protesting Israel. He said he gets called there often. But, he said, this is the first time he has been called to the campus because someone wanted to honor Israel.

One of the people talking remarked that the surprising thing about this event was that it was put on entirely by the students. They really did an excellent job of bringing together the speakers and such, but they did have a bit of trouble running the reservation table.

One couple, who was obviously infinitely patient and understanding, after having stood in line for quite some time, were shown to their table. When they arrived at their table, they started to sit down. The looks on the faces of the other people would make you think that this couple was drowning cats right in front of them.

Finally, someone said that oh, someone else is already sitting there. That would explain whay the salad had already been tossled and the cake had a bite out of it. So, this couple went back to the registration table, where half of the scurrying registrars began scurrying around on their behalf and made them stand at the front while they went and chased away they people who were already sitting in this fine couple's spot.

Reluctantly, the two went back to the table and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
I heard they even made some new friends (at least on Facebook) and may even return next year.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Movies of Remembrance

Sometimes motion pictures help us remember things that we otherwise might not think about. With that in mind, and this being the "Days of Remembrance" regarding the Holocaust, here's a few "holocaust" movies that I would most want to watch.

The Hiding Place I suppose I have to admit that I don't actually remember this movie, but Corrie ten Boom's story first introduced me to the idea of the holocaust. I do remember reading the book (first in comic book form, then the real book), and it was shocking to my young self.

Uprising At first it was a little strange seeing Kamunrah, the evil Pharoah from Night at the Museum II (Hank Azaria) together with Ross from Friends (David Schwimmer) and Joan of Arc (Leelee Sobieski) in the Warsaw Ghetto, but this made for TV production did a great job of capturing the story of the despair and anguish that led to the knowingly futile but surprisingly effective uprising against the nazis. Great cast and great story.

The Pianist
Another story from the Warsaw Ghetto. This one focuses on the life of Wladyslaw Szpilman during this time. This excellent work movingly depicts Szpilman moving from shock to a mind numbing agony to a sort of redemption after being helped by a German officer as the evil progresses and he loses more and more of what made up his life up til then. Diane and I first saw this at the Tower Theater in Sacramento. An excellent venue for this one.

Defiance This one tells the true story of the Bielski's and their fight to survive in the forests of Belarus. As word of their exploits grow, more Jewish people come to join them and the struggle grows to a struggle to build and feed a community in very trying times.

Honorable Mentions

Life is Beautiful Diane really likes this one, so I will give it honorable mention. This Italian film deals with an Italian Jewish Family and how they survive the concentration camp.

Schindler's List
Everyone knows Schindler's List. I have to mention Schindler's List.

Want to know about more holocaust films? Here is a list on wikipedia.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Days of Remembrance

This week marks the Holocaust Days of Remembrance, with today being the actual day of remembrance of The Holocaust.

Take some time with me this week to remember the atrocities committed during this time and the effect they had on the world.

The stories of horror, suffering and sadness are vast beyond what I could try to communicate, but I will try to share a few this week that remind us of what people went through and the evil that was wrought upon them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This policy only applies to you.

In our country, we are fortunate to believe in freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The United Kingdom has similar views about this issue.

Here is an article I found from the UK that illustrates the way some people look at these freedoms there.

The article is the story of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse with the National Health Services in Exeter. Shirley is a Christian believer and has worn a cross since her confirmation nearly 40 years ago. Her employer has decided that she is not allowed to wear a cross to work because it is a religious symbol and religious and cultural symbols are not allowed within the uniform policy.

On the other hand, if you happen to wear a hijab for religious reasons, that is perfectly acceptable.

Read this brief article for some more details and a brief discussion on whether or not the hijab is required for those that practice Islam.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Parental Legacy Tip #2

Parental Legacy Tip #2
Rev. James T. Allerton

As promised, here is the second of the weekly Parental Legacy Tips.

Someone once gave me the advice that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep. Diane and I went out for a jog at the park today and forced our kids to join us with their bikes, followed by all of us doing some circuit exercises together. While we were there, I thought I would extrapolate the sleep advice to other physical aspects.

So, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to take care of yourself physically. And sometimes one of the best spiritual legacies you can leave your kids is to teach them to take care of themselves physically. Being in reasonably good health helps regulate your emotions and gives you increased energy to do the things we are called upon to do.

Here are some areas we try to look at:

Sleep. Getting proper rest makes a huge difference in the emotional state of our house and when even one of us doesn't get enough, it changes the whole household atmosphere.
How does Poor Richard put it? "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Exercise. Being fit gives us more energy, stamina and the endorphins that come from a good workout make us a natural way.
Since I started with a quote for sleep, here is one for exercise: "Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. ~Edward Stanley

Diet. With the abundance of fast food, over processed convenience foods and junk food, it is getting easier and easier to neglect a good diet. We've found that eating better helps our attitudes, energy and the whole household atmosphere.
And again by this Edward guy, “Those who think they have no time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

If you are anything like our family, some of the bad habits we have are years in the making. Sometimes we have to celebrate the smallest of steps to keep us on the right track. But, teaching our kids to take care of the vessel that God has given them is something that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Hope this helps in some small way.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I know it is a while since this one came out, but Diane and I went to see The Book of Eli last night. The thing is, we can go out to the theater and pay a total of three bucks rather than twenty. And, once the movie gets going, we hardly notice that the theater is not quite as nice.

The Book of Eli, starring Denzel, is about a man in a Post-Apocalyptic world who was led by God to the last Bible in the world and told to take it out west. The movie mainly deals with his trying to protect it from a creepy leader of a gang of bullies that wants the book so he can find the right words to dominate even more people.

The movie does bring up some interesting thoughts and ideas about living in a culture that has primarily "lost" the Bible (with the older generations having a memory of it, and the younger being totally clueless) and the power the words within have, but I will deal with a different issue for a moment.

I have heard some speculate that the movie would not play well with a religious audience, due to the level of violence. Granted, the violence is disturbing and brutal. And, thankfully, I don't think it is God's will that we go around hacking one another to bits and blowing holes through people and that sort of thing. But, there have been and are times when warriors are needed to fight on behalf of those that can't, against those that want to take what does not belong to them.

The Bible does have numerous examples of men that did this. Here are some of the exploits of a few of David's (the same David that chopped off Goliath's head with his own sword) men from 2 Samuel 23:

- Josheb-Basshebeth...raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter(whether he was alone or with his men, I do not know).

- Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel's troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.

- Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed...

- Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear.

I appreciated some of the issues that the Book of Eli brought up, including the ones I mentioned. It might be surprising that in a kind of God-Fearing-Mad-Max-Movie you would be asked to face thoughts about what would happen in a world where the scripture was lost, what would lead people to want to get rid of it and the power of the words within. But then, I suppose good art always leads us to face deeper thoughts.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cracked Pots Next Door

Our neighborhood here in Tucson is a bit different than our neighborhood in Sacramento was. When we first moved here, we threw ourselves a welcome us to the neighborhood party, since it seemed clear that the other neighbors weren't going to bring baskets of fruit or plates of cookies. At the party, many of the neighbors were introducing themselves to one another, since they apparently had never done so.

In our Sacramento neighborhood, pretty much everyone knew everyone and kept up on each others lives and tried to help out when someone else needed it. I know this might annoy some people and seem to Leave It To Beaverish for some, but it I really do think it is better to know your neighbors and to look out for one another's property and keep up with their lives.

We are starting to make some progress around here tho. Last week, one of our neighbors came and whacked down a tree for us with his chain saw. Diane was working on it with a hand saw and the neighbor's wife thought that he should offer his services and his saw. While he was cutting it down, Diane wondered if I didn't feel guilty that he was doing the work for me. They probably asked Tom Sawyer the same thing when he gave all the kids in town a chance to help out with whitewashing his fence. No, I didn't feel guilty. I was glad to give the neighbors a chance to be neighborly.

Here is an article about some of the exploits of the son of one of our other neighbors. He made a remarkable discovery of some Sinagua pottery several years back. Sinagua is a name given to a tribe that floated around Northern Arizona and disappeared some 600 years ago. The pottery he found was perfectly preserved and quite large, one being three feet in diameter and the others holding twenty gallons each. Check out this article for some more info about the find and why they named it after his brother Tim, that passed away shortly before the find.

I know that we are more likely than not to ignore those that live closest to us, unless they are too noisy and we need to call the cops. But I think you should find out a little more about your neighbors anyway.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday with Jay

I took a couple of buddies from work to the Good Friday Breakfast this morning. The speaker this year was Jay Dobyns, the guy who went undercover with the ATF to infiltrate the Hell's Angels.

Jay shared some stories and advised that we avoid some of the mistakes he made. A couple of those mistakes were coming to the realization that he had put his relationship with God on the back-burner (which came when he was spurting blood onto the ground from a bullet hole) and realizing that he had neglected his family, friends and peers in pursuit of his mission, leaving a wake of destruction behind him.

He also shared about his life-changing involvement with Heartbeat for Africa, so my post would be remiss if I didn't encourage you to check them out here.

So, while none of us stood up when they tried to get all the cops and prior military to stand up and be prayed at, we still enjoyed the breakfast and were encouraged and challenged by Jay's message.

Thanks for joining us Jay!

And here is a video intro to his book, No Angel.......