Now with Audio Commentary

A few moments ago, I successfully posted my most recent blog post on Youtube.  Now true, it is only an audio recording and a single grainy image, but I hope that it will lead to many new exciting things.  In addition, for those of you who have never met me, you now have an answer to the question, what does the author of The Virginia Conservative sound like?  Listen and enjoy.

Although it is likely going to go pretty slow at first, I must say that I’m looking forward to exploring new possibilities to expand this blog.

Isn’t technology amazing?

Another Comment About Comments

Last night this blog received a few comments.  One of them concerned a post from about a year ago, Searching for Judas, which dealt with Sen. Cuccinelli, Rep. Wolf, and the pro-life movement.  In the comment the respondent wrote:

You brought the bible into the discussion…

Where in the bible does God promote influencing government instead of people? Wouldn’t all of the money spent lobbying our government be better spent on individuals in need? Lead by example rather than force.

You say “Should I treat them as unrepentant heretics? Heaven forbid. Not only would I alienate myself, I would also condemn many otherwise fine and upstanding people that I respect and desire to work along side, not against. ”

In that short passage, you have usurped Gods omnipotent power to judge and bowed to the will of the people rather than God. Are you not aware that, as a believer, you are expected to be ridiculed?

Although I didn’t agree with the remark, I certainly would have allowed such a comment on this site.  Little did the respondent know, however, that the first time anyone posts a comment to my site, it has to be personally approved by me.  Now as it was sent while I was sleeping (at 12:33 last night), I didn’t see it until the morning.  Enraged by the fact that the comment did not appear, about two hours later the respondent commented again, this time solely to belittle my religious devotion.  I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to tell you that I won’t be approving comments by this individual anytime soon.

Although I appreciate the comments you all make, please try to be civil.  Before you post, you should read A Comment About Comments.

Thanks!

The Return of the Virginia Conservative

Good evening everyone and welcome back to my blog, The Virginia Conservative. I know that it has been a bit of time since my last post (two whole weeks!) and I wanted to apologize for the delay. For those who follow my writing, you will know that although I was employed until very recently, I had been in the job market for some time. Now you may think it odd for me to apologize to you, the reader, for this gap. After all, this blog is free…I haven’t seen a single dime in profit. Still, I take pride in this blog and hope to offer ongoing commentary in a timely fashion. In truth, I really do enjoy writing this blog, even if it doesn’t put bread on the table. Like you, I’ve visited those supposedly great sites that now only update every couple of months and I think to myself, what’s the point? The Virginia Conservative must not die. So yes, updates will return…though as Election Day draws closer here in Virginia I would expect they might get a bit scarce. Nevertheless, I’m happy to be back.

For Liberty With Responsibility!

A Fresh Hell

Good evening everyone.

I know that many of you stop by on Tuesdays checking for a new update.  Rest assured that I’ve been working on a few new topics, but lately I’ve been plagued by sleeplessness due, in part, to reconstructive work being done in the basement of the house where I live.  It’s hard to be too analytical when you don’t sleep well.  Anyway, while desperately accumulating sleep debt last night, I wrote the following poem.  I hope you find it interesting, but don’t worry…political commentary will be returning soon.

A Fresh Hell

I lie awake for hours
The Sounds of whirring machinery
Buzzing in my ears
I tiptoe down the stairs
Seeking cause of this disturbance
In the far corners of the basement
Devices hum unwatched
They bear the warning
“Do not shut off!”
I retreat to my bed
Uncertain from where these noises come
The hours tick by
Whirring never ceasing
Eyes wide in torment
The clock strikes three
A fresh hell

PrezCon

Good evening everyone.

Where’s this week’s update you may ask…well, I’m presently taking a bit of vacation time to enjoy the host of board gaming activities at PrezCon in Charlottesville, VA.  I’ll be out of town until Sunday, so I wanted you to know that it is unlikely that I’ll have a chance to update again before that time.

If you get an opportunity, I strongly encourage you to join us.  Perhaps I’ll meet you over a game of 1960 hmm?  I call playing Nixon!

Best wishes.

Joshua

Political Games

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy both politics and various types of board games.  Games of strategy are best, as they usually require planning, improvisation, and just a small touch of luck.  Now when you couple strategy with politics, assuming the mechanics are well designed, you get a truly enjoyable experience.  Therefore, I wanted to take a break from discussing politics as usual to share with you some of my favorite political board games.  And now a word from our sponsor…just kidding of course…there is no sponsor.  Enough introduction!  On to the games!

Diplomacy by Avalon Hill

Rewrite history!  This is game for you and six competitors who can devote multiple hours to the endeavor.  Each player is randomly assigned one nation in pre-World War I Europe.  The possibilities are France, Great Britain, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Russia, Italy, or Turkey.  Your goal is to control half of the major cities/territories in Europe (London, Spain, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Warsaw, Belgium, etc).  As there are no dice, the outcome of battles depends on sheer numbers.  Often times to either conquer territory or defend your position; you will require assistance from your neighbors.  Alliances can be made and broken at will.  No agreements are binding.  Best played with good friends, assuming no one takes the game too personally!  Recommended by Henry Kissinger.

Die Macher by Valley Games

In this game, you take the helm of one of the five major political parties in Germany and do your best to win as many seats as possible in the Bundestag (the lower house of the German parliament).  In each round, parties vie for seats in four of the German states.  You may change your political positions as needed and no party positions are set in stone.  In order to achieve victory, you must balance your resources, constantly update your strategy based upon the plans of the other parties, and form (and avoid) timely coalitions.   Gather some folks who appreciate the differences of European politics or are Germanophiles.

Battlestar Galactica by Fantasy Flight Games

A very new board game.  Each person takes the role of one of the characters from the first season of the current TV show. Then, everyone is given a loyalty card at the beginning of the game to determine your personal goal.   Loyalty cards lead players to help the team or secretly (or not so secretly) sabotage them.  Over a number of turns, players perform actions, which can either aid or hinder the rest.  But beware of your so-called allies.  Until the Cylons (the disloyal player(s)) are jailed, he, she, or they can cause massive trouble for the human crew.  Don’t think merely finding the Cylons is good enough for victory, for once they are revealed, the battle continues openly until the humans reach their destination or perish.  Designed for 3-6 people, though best with 5.   This is the best co-operative game I have played to date.  Although you don’t need to be a fan of the show to enjoy the game (I’m rather lukewarm about it personally), if you are one, I certainly encourage you to give this game a try.

Imperial by Rio Grande Games

Like Diplomacy, this game too takes place in pre-World War I Europe.  However, in this game, you take the role of an international banker as opposed to the leader of a nation.  You use your influence and wealth to compel nations to attack each other, gain territory, build infrastructure, and tax their citizens, all while making you a tidy profit.  Throughout the game, your control over nations strengthens and weakens as all players invest in the great powers.  France could attack Germany one turn and then withdraw and attack Italy instead, depending on which player pulls her strings.  A fun, but disturbing, look at the power and influence of international financiers.

If I remember any additional games in the next couple of days, I’ll make certain to include them. Yes, I know I’ve left out your favorite game, so add it in the comments section.  So, if you get some free time, I highly recommend visiting your local game or hobby store and trying these games out.

A Comment About Comments

Good evening everyone.

I am delighted that so many of you take the opportunity to express yourself and your thoughts on my blog.  However, as stated on my very first post, I wrote, “Feel free to comment however you see fit, though I do ask for you to keep any personal attacks or profanity at a minimum”.  As this is my virtual home, I feel it is my duty to treat each and every guest as I myself would hope to be treated, even if he or she holds wildly divergent opinions from my own.  Therefore, should a person include comments that attack another contributor personally or include highly objectionable material, I will modify or delete that portion of comment as I see fit.  Otherwise, I’ll approve just about anything else.

Thanks for reading and keep adding your $.02 as you see fit.

‘Tis The Season Part 2

Part 2:  My War Against Santa

One might think it strange for me to title this section “My War Against Santa”, after all, who could be against Santa?  Doesn’t he bring joy and hope to millions of children?  Or perhaps you would compare this feud to Dan Quayle’s against the fictitious Murphy Brown?  In any event, my great complaint against Santa is that he is lie.  The developed mythology of Santa (complete with reindeer, elves, and a base on the North Pole) as well as his miraculous omniscience and near omnipresence on Christmas Eve is a complete fabrication.  There is not, nor has never been a person like Santa and yet so many Americans readily spread the falsehood of the Santa story.  I find it deplorable that parents willing indoctrinate their children with this drivel.  Now don’t think I hate everything fiction.  It serves as a wonderful tool to entertain and inspire and allows for massive amounts of creativity.  The problem arises when one attempts to portray fiction as historical or present reality.  Although relatively minor, how many children think Pocahontas married John Smith (as opposed to John Rolfe) due to the efforts of Disney?  Why is it socially acceptable to lie to children at such a massive level as is done with Santa Claus?

Growing up, like most people these days, I was told the Santa lie.  When I discovered the truth, I suppose I was more disappointed that anything else.  Some folks have had a similar response, for example, I draw your attention to the writings of one Christian Scientist.  I would expect that this reaction was not merely an isolated incident and that others have felt similarly betrayed.  However, unlike that author, I have no real interest in “playing the Santa game”.  Most people that I know believe that the myth of Santa Claus is harmless and is all in good fun, but I disagree.  After all, if you can’t trust your parents and your close relatives to tell you the truth, whom can you trust?  Aren’t children generally trusting by nature?  Should we reward such trust with deception, even if this deception has a pleasing face?  I say no.

Another great problem with the Santa issue is assigning credit where it is not due.  For example, why would some people choose to give gifts but claim that they are from Santa instead?  I assure you that when I spend my time and funds to purchase a present, I’ll typically (for there are a few exceptions) let the recipient know from whom the gift came.  Should your children be grateful to a made-up man from the frozen north or their supportive parents?  To me, this rhetorical question is so obvious that any argument to the contrary seems ludicrous.  Another point to consider is the many miracles Santa has supposedly performed.  After all, short of a miracle, how could one man visit so many households in such a small amount of time armed with limitless knowledge and funding?  Normally, of course, he could not.  Therefore, if we expand our thoughts to theology, he must possess god-like powers that either he himself makes manifest or is granted to him by a deity.  Both options present troubling conclusions as they both, by their very nature, lead to worship and adoration of Santa.  Although seemingly innocent, how many children send letters to Santa and visit him at the mall?  Now, how many offer him secret or not so secret bedtime prayers for material salvation?  Has he not become a god with whom they can interact in a very tangible sense? After all, they can see him, touch him, talk to him, and get gifts from him.  Is making Santa a god the kind of morality we wish to infuse in our youth?

To those who consider themselves moral in the audience, let me offer a few thoughts from my own theology.   As Jesus said, “…If your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?  Of course not!”  (Matthew 7:9-10) NLT.  As children depend upon their parents for sustenance, don’t they look to them for their morality and truth as well?  Should you want your faith from your children falter once they discover your lies of Santa?  And what about your faith in your god?  If you son or daughter finds you lying about one miraculous being (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), how can he or she trust your words about the other?  I don’t care how socially acceptable or not the Santa myth is.  Truth is truth and truth must be dutifully protected.  How can you, like an adulterous woman, spread the lie of Santa and then, “…shrug her shoulders, and then say, ‘What’s wrong with that?’”  (Proverbs 30:20)  NLT.  Do you not see the hypocrisy of these acts?

Although I am quite aware that the deeply entrenched fable of Santa will continue to ensnare the hopes and imaginations of children and those who support this fabrication will continue to do so without regret or remorse, I urge you to think differently.  Certainly I will not run through the streets shouting, “There is no Santa” even though we both know that I am right, for it is not my place to usurp the function of the parent…but, on the other hand, I will not simply go along and agree with the lie simply for the sake of social harmony.  I am well aware that such a stance can strain relations, at it has done in my own extended family, but, at the end of the day, at least I try, in this way, to avoid deceiving the most trusting souls among us.  Doesn’t your own morality demand likewise?

Update: After writing this piece, I wondered if I should have compared the concept of Santa to the nanny state, as both will supposedly give you whatever you desire in exchange for strict obedience.  This morning, I see that Tatsuya Ishida over at Sinfest did just that.  Of course, we discover that his character draws this comparison not so much for ideological reasons, but as a result of disappointing Christmas gifts.  Hilarious.  Though I hope you don’t think I’m just mad about getting a pair of socks too…

‘Tis The Season Part I

Good afternoon, readers.  I’ve been thinking about what to write lately, as the political season is a bit slow this time of year.  Of course, in Virginia there is no off year as we have state elections on odd years and national elections on even years.  Nevertheless, other than the recent auto bailout and the possible corruption of the Illinois governor, there is not too much to discuss.  Therefore, I have decided to provide my commentary on this current holiday season in a multi-part series.  Lucky you.

Yes, it is true that I have developed quite a dislike for the Christmas season.  Now I didn’t always feel this way for when I was growing up I eagerly looked forward to Christmas Day as well as everything it embodied.  But as the years progress and I take time to consider truly the full meaning and ramifications of the holiday, I have come up with a multitude of reasons why I have an aversion to the season.  Some people call me a Grinch out of sheer instinct, after all, who else could be against Christmas, but before you rush to such conclusions, I encourage you to consider my arguments.  Well, enough with the introduction, I present to you the first reason.

Part 1:  Materialism and Compulsory Gift Giving

Unfortunately our culture seems to be dominated with the desire for material accumulation fueled by rampant commercialism.  The Christmas season serves as the focal point of this rabid obsession.  I’m sure you’ve witnessed in Walmarts and Targets children screaming to their parents for the latest toys.  Don’t get me wrong, I love capitalism as much or more than the average person, but I fervently believe that materialism for its own sake is destructive.  What did you get me?  What are you going give me?  Do these questions sound familiar?  I want to know, how much stuff is enough?  Isn’t the spirit of Christmas supposed to be something other than the accumulation of more and more goods?  (More on this topic on a later section.)

Tied into materialism is the concept of compulsory gift giving.  For some reason, we measure feelings of love, affection, and personal worth based upon the quantity and quality of gifts that we give.  After all, as the logic goes, if you really love me, wouldn’t you spend as much as you could afford, or worst, far too often, even more than you can afford, going into debt?  I can personally recall the Christmas sibling rivalry growing up.  If my sister got either more gifts or a higher value of gifts does that mean that I should use the packages under the Christmas tree to base my merit?  Here is where I would ask if we are really that shallow, but…unfortunately we are.  Now if someone gives you a gift, what is the socially acceptable response?  Why, you give them a gift too.  I have found that when one gives a gift, at least a part of you expects some sort of reciprocation.  Remember, you held that person in high enough regard to expend some of your time and wealth selecting a gift and therefore feel owed.  On the other side, should someone surprise you with an unexpected gift, what is the first or second thought going through your mind?  Isn’t it feelings of guilt or frustration?  After all, you didn’t get that person a gift and now aren’t you socially obligated to do so?

What about merit?  In an ideal world, shouldn’t gift giving, like so much else, be tied to merit?  At Christmastime we are urged to give regardless of merit and therefore we give to spoiled and disobedient children or to acquaintances or family members we don’t really know or like.  Don’t misunderstand my thinking here.  I do enjoy giving gifts, but I don’t think we should be compelled to give gifts just because of a certain date.  If I give you a gift it should be because I think you deserve it, not because it is expected or demanded or it is “that time of year”?  Although it may sound counterintuitive, Christmas cheapens gift giving because it splits the correlation between merit and reward.

We must break this spinning cycle of materialism and compulsory gift giving tied to Christmas.  Will this post be overwhelmed with comments of vitriolic disgust?  I know it sounds cruel, but I honestly believe that this holiday only serves to encourage over-spending, guilt, and bad behavior.  I say, lets forget shopping and give Christmas a better and nobler purpose.

Back in Business

Well, I’m pleased to announce that we’re up and running again. Although I lost a lot of my data with the death of my hard drive, I was able to recover a good chunk of it thanks to the fine folks at Apple. I’m sorry to say that the article I wanted to post tonight is gone, but many more will replace it.

Here we again.

Joshua