O’Donnell and the Koch Brothers

Lawrence O’Donnell this past week made a rather widely publicized statement about the Koch Brothers.

Apparently he is accustomed to disparaging these two men because they use their resources to promote conservative political agendas. But this time he was taking note that David Koch had donated a large amount of money to a hospital which proved beneficial to the liberal MSNBC host. Then he went on to talk about how he could hold these two conflicting ideas at the same time. He believes the Koch brothers do harm with their money politically, but he also believes the Koch brothers do beneficial things with their money by funding hospitals.

If he believes they are doing something immoral by contributing to conservative causes, does he also believe people who give large amounts to liberal causes should be publically chastised or branded? There certainly are large, liberal contributors who intentionally use their money to try and shape public policy. Mr. O’Donnell uses his position to promote liberal causes. He apparently believes a person who uses his influence to promote liberal causes is practicing their rights and freedom of speech, but a person who does the same to promote conservative causes is doing something unfair.

I think he missed an opportunity to learn something. He is not allowed to tell others how they spend their money, but if he could, his own quality of life would have been negatively impacted.

Refit, Retrain, and Rethink

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey Homeward, and Ambush on Platinum 9.  Today we get Episode 27

 

Refit, Retrain, and Rethink

Chambers took the ship back to home port outside the capital. After checking orders and finding nothing pressing she dismissed the crew for two weeks shore leave. But she herself stayed on in order to both oversee the repairs and to go through the crew. She planned to have a crew she could trust when she was done, and it was the privilege of a captain to take such an action.

The CDF engineers put a new main drive into the ship and also upgraded most of the weapons. They were hoping that these new weapons would allow them to have more success against pirates. Chambers knew their main problem was not weaponry, but that the nature of the Dibolocos gave them advantages which could only be counteracted by the assistance of the Kilkians.

But she kept this knowledge to herself, at least for now, because the people here looked at the two alien races as much the same. Even the very few who were genuinely aligned with the Kilkian king were not as aware of the true nature of their warfare as she and Jamison. Although every person aligned with the king had a helper assigned to them, most were totally unaware of them.

In fact, the official status of the CDF was that they were not at war. They simply had a large number of pirates to deal with which had successfully disrupted trade at a critical time in the history of the colonies. Because of the inability to trade, society had further dilapidated and the military had taken full control of the government. Furthermore the CDF believed the pirates were random groups which could be Dibolocos led, human led or even led by Kilkians. Chambers understood that the piracy was actually an organized continuation of a secret war by the Dibolocos, but Colofen had advised her against voicing this truth. The people were not ready to believe it.

When the two weeks was nearing completion, Chambers was summoned by the CDF Strategic Command. When she prepared to meet with them Colofen warned her she should expect the meeting to be difficult.

Upon arrival, she discovered that she was the guest of honor at a banquet. She was aware that her victories had been the only success achieved by the CDF. This banquet which was being recorded, would be used as propaganda to help quell the fears of the populace. The CDF was in danger of being overthrown by the anarchy which had overtaken the general population. They hoped to be able to use her story as a success story, which would buy them time in restoring order.

But at the event she was alarmed to discover that a full third of the Central Strategic Commanders, the CSC, were actively aligned with Dibolocos. None were actively aligned with the Kilkians, only her. She was relieved that they did not seem to have any idea what was really going one. But she didn’t understand how she could bring about a unified defense or central government when so much of it was controlled by the enemy.

During the ceremony, she was made aware of several things. One was that she was being given a promotion in rank in addition to being commissioned as captain. The other was that they were moving her from her current command to a heavy cruiser. The CSC had handpicked a crew for her. She would be obligated to use the new crew, a fact which immediately worried her. Her efforts in getting her current crew and ship squared away had been a total waste.

One last fact that surprised her was, that her ship would be equipped with a full communication center. Not for military communications but with equipment used for civilian communication and entertainment. She was made to understand that they expected to continue using her as the primary source for their propaganda. In order to be prepared for this role, they had a couple of days of specific training for her to go through before departure.

During this training time, Chambers began to notice the problems of working in a world that was predominantly controlled by Dibolocos. While the training materials did mention that Dibolocos or humans could be the captain of a pirate vessel, the majority of their energy was in convincing her the Kilkians were the primary culprits. They even put in some suggestions that the Kilkian king might be orchestrating all of the piracy. The training reminded Chamber’s of brainwashing as much as a training event, but she kept quiet and didn’t correct any of the lies at the request of Colofen. Once she and her ship had departed then she would be freer to speak about the truth.

She also learned that her orders would be convoy escort. Along with her heavy cruiser, four light cruisers including the one she had brought home would be in the group. She would have command of all of all of them. On the last day of the training she met the other captains. Captain Bittlesworth was a man actively aligned with the Dibolocos. She was dismayed to make this discovery. Captain Avery was actively aligned with the Kilkian king. She was glad for this and hoped for a chance to speak with him privately in the near future. Captain Dremmer was passively aligned with the Dibolocos, but not particularly loyal to them. In a similar mindset was Captain Corel. He was the first officer who had unselfishly given her the credit for the victories over the pirates they had experienced.

Captain Bittlesworth had expected to be made the group commander and to have the helm of the heavy cruiser. He was a tough looking, handsome and self-composed man. He also gave every indication of wanting to get to know her better. She supposed he planned to charm her based upon his demonstrative attention and overly gentlemanly behavior. She also supposed this meant she would have to watch him the closest.

Ambush on Platinum 9

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating Dibolocos and The Journey Homeward.  Today we get Episode 26

From there they made a direct path back to the colonies. As the normal operations of the ship resumed, Chambers now had the opportunity to drop in and chat with Jamison fairly often, captains can do whatever they want. This was how he learned of everything that had happened on the journey thus far. For both of them it was refreshing to see each other, but visiting the enlisted area allowed Chamber’s to see that some members of the crew were not loyal to her leadership. She made plans to review the entire contingent aboard the ship so that when she went back out she would be able to completely trust everyone on board.

These plans had to be put on hold when they received a distress signal about two days away from port. It was from Platinum 9, a mining colony on a massive moon. The civilization on the colony had broken down to the point where the workers were rioting in the streets and the surviving members of the administration were holed up in their headquarters asking for immediate evacuation. Chambers diverted to the site and dispersed enough personnel to pacify the situation.

Below deck, Jamison had been studying the conditions among the colonies. While focused on this and strategizing with Colofer in unspoken conversations, he learned his circumstances were about to take a drastic change.

“A group of men are about to come and get you. Do not fight them.” Colofer spoke the warning only seconds before Jamison became aware of their approach. They quickly surrounded Jamison with drawn weapons and insisted he come with them. They gathered with the remainder of the landing party. If any of the other men had questions, they did not ask. Keeping with the instructions of Colofer, Jamison did not resist in any way either.

When they hit the ground the majority of the soldiers were sent to recover the colony administrators. The group holding Jamison was left behind to guard the shuttle. As soon as they were alone, his captors dragged him out of the ship and instructed him to run for his life. He only delayed a second, as his new insights and the cold look in their eyes indicated they were planning to open fire.  He ran towards the settlement, knowing he would never cover the ground before they started shooting.

About 25 meters later Colofer instructed him to dodge left. As he did so a shot ripped through the air he had previously occupied.  A few paces later he was told to dodge left again, with a similar outcome.  Following these instructions he survived the dash into the cover of the buildings on the edge of the settlement.  At first he thought this meant he was safe, but he felt compelled to keep running until he was past several more buildings.  Behind him the soldiers fired a larger weapon and completely destroyed the building he had first hidden behind. If he had stayed in the original hiding place he would have been killed.

They were sending a group out to make sure he was dead, but that group encountered resistance from a group of disgruntled miners. A firefight ensued, until the main group returned with the evacuees. They were returning with all haste and also taking fire from the disgruntled workmen so dealing with the situation on the ground prevented them from discovering Jamison was still alive. A few minutes later the shuttle pulled away leaving Jamison hiding in the colony without a weapon and surrounded by thousands of angry people.

He hunkered down half expecting Chambers to realize what had happened and send a landing party down for him. But instead a couple of hours passed and he felt the departure of the ship in his emotions. Colofer assured him it would be alright. And on the ship Colofen had similar instructions for Chambers. As she pulled away, knowing full well she was leaving her friend in a very hostile situation, she silently asked the king to watch over him.

Back on the moon, Jamison was hunkered down in the rubble of the destroyed building. It appeared to have been an empty warehouse. The shelving made for lots of mangled metal, but there didn’t seem to be any goods among the destruction. This was probably the cause of the rioting. Pirates made shipping difficult, or sometimes impossible. So colonies began to starve, and starving people could do desperate things. Jamison well remembered his short return to the capital city after being rescued from the Zilkas Asteroid Belt. If the capital was in that much distress it only made sense outlying areas were worse.

He spent the rest of the night searching for anything useful, and evading detection from the large mobs roaming the streets. Unfortunately he found nothing he needed. There was no food, no water, no weapons—and daylight was approaching.

He decided his best bet was to be out of town when the sun came up. So he worked back to toward the landing area where he had been shot at. As he approached the destroyed warehouse he realized a lot of people were gathered there. This time it wasn’t workers. It was their families. They heard the facility holding their supplies had been destroyed and came to scavenge what they could. The discovery that it was empty had hit them hard. Many groups were weeping openly. Others were wandering with that particular blindness brought on by hopelessness.

Jamison considered whether or not he could blend in with these groups and perhaps be undetected as a stranger. He doubted this plan would work, and decided to circle around them and head out of town.  Across the landing zone was a mountain range where he hoped to hide. But upon arriving he realized that those mountains were the center of the mining operations. The workings held lots of hiding places as long as the workmen didn’t come back to the mines.

By this time the growing twilight allowed him to see farther than he had before. In front of him was a series of cliffs he would not be able to climb. Behind him was the landing pad, with thousands of miners crossing toward him to reach the mining works. They were probably looking to scavenge anything useful. Jamison’s mind searched for a plan, he needed a hiding place. Every place he looked was unlikely to work.

Too quickly for comfort he was against the rock wall, and scouted toward the right hoping for cover. What he found was a massive water tank. He climbed the ladder to the top and found a control room.  Apparently they had used water pressure to perform some of the drilling and digging. The water was then collected and reused. According to records the water would eventually be too heavy with sediment and have to be replaced.

In the control room was a few instruments including sensors to analyze material.  Since he was thirsty he tested the water to see if it was safe to drink. It was not. It had absorbed massive amounts of heavy metals and contaminates from the mining operation.

He kept one of the sensors. It was the only useful thing he had found after searching all night. Every water cooler was empty, every weapons locker emptied. He climbed down and continued his search for a hiding place. The workers were already moving into the camp. He assumed they would search every room, he needed a someplace that was less obvious.

As he heard angry footsteps approaching he noticed a small tunnel going under the edge of the water tank. With no other options he crawled into the opening and disappeared into the darkness. In the dark he could feel his hands and knees come into contact with something slimy. Then he felt his head contact the back of the burrow. He rolled over on his back and waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark. While he waited he listed to the rustling of something else that was in the den with him. Probably, whatever animal had dug the hole in the first place, he just hoped it was not dangerous.

Children’s Ministry

I believe ministry to children is an indispensable part of a church.

It is not just a matter of the adults in the church need a place for their children to be while they participate in spiritual exercises. It is also that the children as they grow need to learn their own spiritual nature. And it is also that the church has a responsibility before God, to minister to children.

The church must always remember children are important to God. He made this clear by including them and emphasizing their importance during His earthly ministry. He also made it clear the faith of a child is a precious and special faith, which is not to be wasted or depreciated.

So ministry to children should be more than just childcare. Even for the youngest of children, special care should be taken to make them feel safe, loved and to train them in Christianity. This means teaching them to love God and to serve God through the church. Their ministry be carefully planned and intentionally structured. The spiritual lessons should be carefully ordered and presented.

Since children are important to God, they must be important to us too.

Gambel’s Quail

Gambels Qauil

This is a male Gambel’s quail. Specifically it is the lookout. A covey of quail will often post a sentry. One of the birds will be posted on top of a shrub or brush pile so that it can see danger coming and warn the others.

When I saw this bird perching on top of the scrub, I took several pictures of it, and then decided I wanted to find the covey. After all it is the time of year they have chicks with them, and a line of babies would make a great picture.

I stepped out of the car without spooking the bird, then I used my camera to scan every likely hiding place. I continued scanning until I decided I could give up. It would be just as easy to walk towards the sentry. It would call out an alarm, and then join the others for a mad dash out of harm’s way.

My plan worked to a point—a point followed by failure. The reason my plan did not succeed was because I had made a faulty assumption. The vast majority of quail are in coveys, but there are always a few unpaired birds.

This particular bird when it did fly down and take off running, crossed a golf course where I could see with great certainty that it was alone. There would be no pictures of chicks, because there were no chicks. It was a false assumption.

Believers also commonly make false assumptions. We tend to think the people around us are already Christians. But some of them are not. The last thing we want is to have people we thought we would see in heaven never show up. The bad part will be realizing we had missed many chances to talk to them about it.

“Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” Colossians 4:6 (HCSB)

My Hope for the Cantor Loss

One of the more mysterious things to happen in politics this past week was the defeat of House majority Leader, Eric Cantor by relatively unknown, Dave Brat. When the votes were counted, neither Cantor nor Brat were quick to believe the results.

They had been told by polls how the election was going to go. Only this time it didn’t.

They had expected the difference in money spent campaigning to rule the day. Only this time Brat, spent less than $123,000 while Cantor spent almost $5,000,000.

The media believed it had relegated Brat to extinction by marginalizing him as a part of the tea party. But that apparently didn’t have the expected effect.

 

I cannot tell you what really happened in Virginia. But I can choose to see it as a positive.

I find it hopeful that the polls were wrong. Polls have been thoroughly misused, to not only inform the public, but also to shape public opinion. This event may reshape the power of the pollster.

I also find it hopeful that dollars did not rule the day. Dollars winning elections should be an abhorrent thought to all Americans, the idea that we are bought.

I find it hopeful that the public bucked the negative labeling of the press. I believe a media which was doing its job would inform the voting public of the positions of each candidate. Then they could vote, accordingly. Perhaps they will again begin reporting the public opinion instead of trying to shape it.

 

Note on that last point, America and politicians have been told the way to win election is to stay aligned with your political base while winning votes from the moderate middle. But perhaps at some point it can once again be about public service, leadership and maintaining American values and virtues.

The Journey Homeward

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting Compagno and Unseating Dibolocos.  Today we get Episode 25

The Journey Homeward.

The light cruiser set up an orbit while injuries and damage could be sorted out. A shuttle picked up Jamison, along with all their usable supplies and logs. Shortly thereafter they were underway to return Chambers and Jamison to the colonies. Battlefield repairs were made, but the ship would have to be docked to allow it to be returned to full battle readiness. Colofer and Colofen came on board too, but they hid themselves so that only Jamison and Chambers understood they were there.

They both had trouble sleeping on the month long voyage. Jamison had been put in a bunk in enlisted quarters, not the normal place for a major, but his commission had not been accepted so they saw him as a civilian. He had to get used to the rush of emotion caused by so many around him being unaligned, or worse being aligned with the Dibolocos. He also had formed an unconscious habit of tracking where on the ship Chambers was. It especially bothered him that she never seemed to lay down to sleep herself. He didn’t know why or what was unfolding but he could tell something was odd.

For Chambers her first victory on the ship had been met with the gratitude of the crew, but the captain quickly grew suspicious of her. She was assigned to sick bay since she had a medical background. Unfortunately the officer in charge wanted to play doctor with her. So she was constantly playing cat and mouse to stay out of reach without creating an open conflict. Since they bunked in the same section she found it necessary to avoid the sleeping quarters when he was there.

During these times she would spend time in the chart room, studying the spread of CDF forces. Her visits there were noticed by the captain, which only raised his suspicions further. They would be traveling by the Capital Nebula, and every time she saw it on the charts she felt uneasy. Then one night she was there, head down taking a nap in the seclusion. She bolted straight awake and in a panic drew her side arm searching the room for a target. Her eyes found nothing, but the automated charts revealed their course had altered to pass immediately beside the nebula. Suddenly she knew she had to get to the bridge.

She ran down a corridor for ten feet before realizing she was headed the wrong way. Back the other direction and around two corners was a lift that came out near to the bridge’s only entrance. She sprinted all the way up, hoping she wasn’t too late. Then she was stopped cold in her tracks by two guards at the bridge entrance that had orders to not allow anyone in, especially not her.

She begged, she reasoned, but the two low ranking men just stared at her with mild amusement. She was considering how to force entrance when the doors opened from the other side. The first officer, a man passively aligned with the dibolocos came out and started at seeing her there.

“Chambers, I was just coming to get you.”

“Why what’s happened?”

“I am demanding the Captain seek a second opinion on his current course of action. You being an outsider struck me as the most logical choice. Follow me please.”

The soldiers who had barred her entrance now followed her onto the bridge. Standing behind her with their weapons held at ready.

“Chambers what are you doing here?” the captain demanded. Then seeing the guards he yelled, “Collusion! Mutiny!” At this he drew his side arm and aimed it at one of the startled guards. The man dropped dead before having a chance to react. He might have fired again, but the helmsman disarmed him. This, of course, made him even more angry and he threatened personal violence toward everyone he saw.

The first officer had him subdued and confined to quarters. Then he explained they had become aware of a supply convoy moving in a similar route to them. Instead of joining the convoy for safety the captain had insisted they move the other direction. Hence the order to approach the nebula.

The first officer objected since this route made them vulnerable to ambush. It’s hard to sneak up on someone in open space. Any object could hide an enemy, but a nebula would be ideal cover for a trap. To make matters worse the first officer was pretty sure the captain had been quietly sending messages off-ship of an unknown manner and destination.

Chambers demanded an immediate halt. They came to a complete stop in space in relative proximity to the edge of the nebula. Then she ordered three missiles be sent into denser pockets of the nebula. All three found a pirate ship. Their hiding place also served to prevent them from seeing the incoming round and do anything to prevent their own destruction. Cheers were rounding out the bridge when the officers realized she was shouting a new order.

“Now, Run! Top speed! Heading 287 mark 65.”

“What are you doing?” asked the confused first officer. His question was answered when a fourth ship came out of the mists. It was huge, and would not have been brought down by a single missile like the others.

The commanders on deck followed her orders and they were off on another wild chase. Again the other ship was faster, but less nimble. They fired their big guns often and the competent crew dodged the shots easily, but as the distance closed it would get harder and harder.

Chambers focused her thoughts to see if Colofen had any ideas, “Make a giant arc back toward the nebula. You will have just enough time to get back before they catch you.”

The route worked, and everyone was hopeful there seemed to be a plan. When they neared the nebula again, Colofen had Chambers command they enter at a very specific point. As they did the mists cleared for about 20k meters. At the end of this spontaneous tube they found another turning off at 90 degrees. They turned and followed the new tube to the end where they stopped. The tubes closed behind them and they were blinded by the nebula. Behind them and close came a massive explosion. The nebula cleared enough to show the big ship had chased them in and when the nebula closed they went straight instead of turning. This caused them to impact a moon sized asteroid.

The first officer would normally become captain when the previous captain was unable to serve. As soon as they were out of danger the man began communicating with the CDF Strategic Command. After giving them a full report he made an unusual request. A few hours later, Chambers was made captain. When the previous captain was told about it, he committed suicide.