David Ancell's Virtual Home

Unfit for Public Office

  /   Sunday, June 25, 2017   /   Comments(0)

By now, most of the buzz has already calmed down about Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the religious beliefs of Russell Vought that could very easily be interpreted to mean that Christians need not apply for public office. Well, maybe it’s okay to be a Christian as long as you don’t really believe the Christianity is true. Don’t even think about letting your faith influence you in a way that might affect others!

The existence of this mentality really shouldn’t be surprising. Secular society has long looked at some religious beliefs as though they were a personality quirk that needed to be worked around. There was a veneer of “respecting the beliefs of others” as though they were just arbitrary traits of a person that we can just humor. People were supposedly just taught these things, and we can’t expect them to be able to substantiated. This stops the moment someone show that a person takes what they believe seriously.

Sanders and those like him seem to have forgotten one thing – why would anyone believe anything? There’s really only one reason to believe anything, religious or otherwise – because it is true! No matter how beautiful something sounds or how much I like it, there is no point in my believing it if it isn’t true. If something is true, then it’s only logical that anything that contradicts it must be false. If I think my child ate the last cookie, but my wife thinks he didn’t, we can’t both be right. He either did or he didn’t. I know that a lot of people these days say that we really can’t be sure that any one religion is right. However, the people who say that sound darn sure that they are right in saying that we cannot be sure that any one religion is right, and that belief also has consequences for them and others as well.

So, does believing something is right and basing one’s life, including one’s public life on it, render one unfit for office? The left seems to think these days that it not only renders one unfit for public office, but it also renders one unfit for a lot of other things. If anyone wants to know how someone like Donald Trump reached the presidency, I think the actions of the left in this regard are a huge factor. There were enough people who didn’t want to see what would be a continuation of an administration willing to go after the Little Sisters of the Poor for not providing contraception in their insurance plan. There were enough people who were tired of bakers, florists, and other wedding professionals being sued for everything they have for not wanting to participate in a same-sex “wedding.” There were enough people who questioned imposing on everyone the ideology of people who think that they can be one biological sex but yet another gender. Oh, and there are people who are certain that they are right about these things, and they seek to impose them on others. They may not be religious beliefs, but if we look at history careful, we can see that militant atheists and secularists have harmed far more people than religious zealots.. The Communist revolutions of the 20th Century resulted in far, far more destruction of human life than did he Inquisition and the Crusades (the latter of which I will argue actually had a noble purpose).

The problem that makes one unfit for public office isn’t a belief that something is definitely right. Whether someone is fit for public office depends on 1) how people who are, or who are believed to be, in error should be treated 2) the objective morality or immorality of what one believes 3) the person’s willingness or unwillingness to substantiate what they believe. Too many people want to just cry “bigot” or “blaming the victim” instead of coming up with an adult argument. Also, despite popular opinion, religious beliefs can be substantiated. Take a look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

To see people’s fitness for public office, look at how they view those of a different belief. What do they want to do – evangelize them, leave them to their fate, or destroy them? If they wish to evangelize, how would they do so – by proclaiming the message or by force? Finally, how would they settle a matter of justice between a believer and an unbeliever? Do they believe in principles of right and wrong that would lead them to render a decision in favor of an unbeliever if justice demanded it? Do they hold people of their own faith accountable for doing what’s right, even to an unbeliever? Obviously, a judge that would always rule in favor of a Christian who stole from a Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or even an atheist isn’t fit to be a judge.

Whether we understand it or not, we want people in office who base their lives on unwavering moral principle and expect the same from others. Every law on the books is someone’s imposition of beliefs in what is right or wrong on others.  Otherwise, what else is going to be the basis for their decisions? They could make them based on whatever benefits them personally, whatever some group of influential or powerful people thinks, or whatever is blowing in the latest political wind. To quote one of my favorite country songs “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” While that may be just a song, I do fear that one of our greatest problems today is that we are indeed falling for anything because little worthwhile is being held to be true.

Category: Uncategorized


Adventures in the Dental Office

  /   Thursday, June 15, 2017   /   Comments(0)

Not too many people will associate the dental office with adventure. Maybe that word isn’t quite the right one to describe it, but oh well, I’ll use it for now. I went to a different dentist than I had been going to for a checkup. I’ll refrain from mentioning names here. I had been to the dentist maybe seven or eight months earlier, and no cavities were found. Needles to say, I was a bit surprised to be told by this new dentist that I had eighteen teeth that needed at least a filling, or was I?

Well, maybe a bit surprised is accurate. For the record – no, I don’t believe that I need that much dental work. I believe the dentist believes it. He showed me these pictures from the digital camera and the x-ray showing how I had these bad places in my teeth. The thing that they didn’t seem to understand is that they can show me as many spots on pictures as they want, but this doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial to the tooth to drill it out and replace it with artificial stuff that will ultimately have to be redone later. Fillings don’t last a lifetime.

You see, this isn’t my first dental adventure of this sort. In 1998, my home town dentist told me that I had a couple of cavities that needed to be filled. I was away at pharmacy school and didn’t have time to get back home to have the work done. I made the mistake of going to a dentist near where I was in school only to be told that I had a whole bunch of cavities. Not only that, but the dentist told me that I had better get these done as soon as I can or they will get much worse. His near-threatening tone of voice should have convinced me to flee. I let him do maybe two or three. I shouldn’t have. I stopped letting him do these and went to another dentist in my home town, and was told that I needed only one filling.

I had similar incidents in 2003 and again in 2010. Granted, during both of those times I had waited way too long to go to the dentist. The one in 2010 wanted to do over $10,000 work of work in my mouth. Both of those times, I didn’t need or have nearly as much work done as those dentists said that I needed. I went somewhere else. If I truly needed all that work done, my entire jaw and maybe even my nose should have rotted off by now. I have more than my share of dental work in my mouth, but I still did a lot less than was originally suggested once I got a second opinion.

So, what’s the point of this story? I can make a couple of points here. First, if you get a dentist who tells you that you need a lot of work, it’s a good idea to seek another opinion before you get it done. There are dentists who seem to think that they need to fill anything that doesn’t look quite normal. Others are more conservative and question whether drilling it out will be of benefit to the tooth. There’s a good possibility that one of the “cavities” that I was told that I had in 1998 has never been filled to this day. If so, it definitely didn’t progress too much. I still have all of my teeth except for my wisdom teeth.

My second point concerns something that may be a little harder to explain to non-medical people. There are different opinions out there in any medical science about what does and does not need treatment and why or why not. Medicine is not the exact science that everyone wants it to be. Some problems will be diagnosed differently by different doctors.

It’s odd that, when I visit a dentist, a more conservative dentist normally understands why more aggressive dentists want to do more fillings. They will rarely disparage the more aggressive dentist. However, more aggressive dentists have never seemed to understand that there are more conservative dentists who may see reason not to do certain treatment. When I mentioned that I hadn’t been told I had cavities to the dentist I just saw, he couldn’t understand why they weren’t caught. I think I know why not, though, and I am a pharmacist, not a dentist.

Still, it’s not abnormal for one doctor to see a scan and think nothing of it and for another to choose to observe it for now. In my case, the past experience with my teeth and the supposed cavities told me that I don’t have dire need of fillings. I have the past history to justify that, and the dentist to whom I just went didn’t seem to understand that. Relying on that, I can come to a good conclusion of what to do, or, in this case, what not to do.

Category: News on My Life


My Fasting Strategy

  /   Saturday, April 15, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I must admit that I am not good at fasting. I guess I just like my food too much. Yes, I know I need to do something about it, and having days of fasting like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are good for me. I guess I have also not been good at getting posts up at the right time since I meant to do this earlier and also meant to post more, but i guess it can give some people who had trouble fasting this year some help.

For me to do a day of fasting, I have to be pretty deliberate about how I am going to do it. Like everyone else, I need to be able to perform the duties of my state of life, and being too hungry doesn’t help with that. I realize that, as one priest said, we get to eat more on fast days than many people get to eat every day. Still, I need a strategy for fasting.

So, here it is … but please note that this isn’t for everyone, and I am certainly not taking responsibility for anyone who shouldn’t do it this way who tries it anyway (or anyone else either). I just want to put it out there to see if anyone thinks it will work.

Here’s the questionable part … I normally eat a big dinner the day before the fast. Maybe I shouldn’t, but as far as I know it’s allowed. Then, I wait until as late as possible to eat anything on the actual day of fasting. It’s like getting it over with early as much as possible. I normally go to work on fasting days to keep my mind off it. I packed a couple of peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches to use as my lighter meals, and I eat the first one when I really need to eat. I then try to wait as long as I can before eating the next one. I have my full meal at home that night to hold me until thee next day.

With this strategy, I have been able to fast while still doing my work. Of course, it helps to go to Mass and Good Friday service on the day of fasting to keep occupied and reminded of why we are doing this. I hope this is helpful for at least some of you.

One other thing … Holy Saturday up until the Easter Vigil is a time to continue prayer, and, you guessed it – fasting! You are not required by the Church to fast on Holy Saturday, but I certainly encourage anyone who can to continued, and so does the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Think if it as a time of reflection on Jesus in the tomb and of waiting for the Resurrection.

Category: Uncategorized


Videocast: Why I Returned the Panasonic GX850

  /   Friday, March 17, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I have posted a new videocast

Since I did a review of the GX850 and gave it a pretty good review, I believed it was only right that I gave an update since I returned it.  I wanted people to know what happened so that anyone considering this camera can make a decision as to whether it will suit them or not.

The bottom line is that the first one I bought had the touchscreen quit responding.  I exchanged it and got another one, and then I noticed the lens motor sounds in my video.  They made the camera unusable for my purposes, but there may be some people who can use this despite this issue with the kit lens.  A Panasonic engineer said that the noise was part of the normal operation of the camera, so others are likely to experience this.

Another user posted a video with the same issue.  Here is the link to that video.

Category: Technology, Videos


Podcast: It’s Ok to Give Up Chocolate

  /   Saturday, March 04, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I have posted a new podcast episode.

Download it here.

A popular Lenten devotion series online advertises itself with the line “Don’t give up chocolate for Lent.”  I’m sure they had good intentions, and I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that series.  However, this is really not a good way to promote your devotion.

The practice of giving something up is valuable.  Lent involve prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and giving something up is a good way to practice fasting.  I explain more in this episode.

Category: Podcasts


What About the Other Side of This

  /   Wednesday, March 01, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I have heard over the years about different politicians and groups insisting on protecting “access” to contraception as though it were something necessary and hard to obtain. I have also heard all I can stand from people who insist that the new version of “nondiscrimination” is more important than the faith of people who run businesses and provide services. I’ve often thought about how such policies, and especially the actions of our previous administration, would end up limiting the medical profession to people who will essentially follow our culture, preventing people of faith from being able to practice both their faith and a healing profession. I’m glad to see that there still are some people still trying to stand up for the rights of faithful health care professionals.

However, there is another aspect of this that needs to be considered. I have had my fill of media describing women seeking abortion, contraception, or a morning-after pill being made to feel guilty about their “reproductive choices,” but very few in the major media are willing to apply that to faithful Catholic women who wish to embrace the Church’s teaching about openness to life. Where is their “access” to faithful physicians who have a mindset other than the prevailing cultural mindset about families and children? Where is their “access” to an OB / GYN who understands natural family planning? If you want to talk about discrimination, then you should hear the comments these women (including my wife) get when they try to explain that they don’t want contraception.

However, for all the grief they get, at least there is not yet legislation pending to make the teaching of natural family planning illegal or to saddle it with ridiculous requirements. For another group, such laws are in place in some form in a number of states and cities. They city of Toledo, Ohio is the most recent I have seen to ban any form of “conversion therapy” for people with same-sex attraction. Claims you hear are that it protects people, presumably minors, from being forced to undergo supposedly harmful therapy for something that supposedly isn’t a problem. The Toledo version doesn’t appear to be limited to minors, though, as some are.

Well, I really don’t know how well current methods of therapy work for same-sex attraction. Even the NARTH institute is not suggesting that everyone (or even most people) with same sex attraction can completely reorient themselves. Therapy certainly will have no helpful effect on anyone who does not want to change. However, banning all therapy with such a goal sets a dangerous precedent.

What about those people who do want to try and change or reduce unwanted same sex attractions? What option are we leaving them? Some people may be able to do so if they get help before the feelings become deep rooted. Instead, the only “support” option available to them in these jurisdictions is someone who tells them to accept this as who they are and get on with it. The same can also happen to someone who experience discomfort about their gender. They may not have anyone to turn to except people who insist that they believe that they are really a woman in a man’s body or vice versa, and this is who they are.

For their own ideology, the activists are shutting down the scientific inquiry and the treatment choices for people. By doing this, the only freedom or choice they support is for people who fit their ideas. Those of us who want treatments in conformity with our faith may find ourselves out of luck if we don’t do something about it.

Category: Catholic, Response


Videocast: Stone Mountain Hike

  /   Tuesday, February 28, 2017   /   Comments(0)

Just before Lent, I wanted to get this posted . . .

Last fall, my family and I took a trip to Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia.  I managed to take a few minutes away to hike up the mountain, and it’s a beautiful and fun hike.  Here I share some footage as well as my comments about the hike.

Category: Videos


Podcast: New Season of Podcasting

  /   Thursday, February 23, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I have just posted another podcast after a long hiatus.  I’m starting my new season.

Go hear or download the episode here.

This one’s really just a brief introduction to what I’m hoping to accomplish with the blog, video, and the podcast.  I’ll try to get another episode up later about Lent.

Category: Podcasts


Tracking Those Steps: Garmin Vivosmart HR vs. Charge 2

  /   Sunday, February 12, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I have been trying to do some things to get in better shape over the last year. One thing I’ve found is that an activity tracker is great to help set a goal and make sure I am reaching it. I have used two different ones, and I thought it would be helpful if I wrote a bit about how they compared. I got the Garmin Vivosmart HR through a rewards program at my work, but I switched to the Fitbit Charge 2 after Christmas. I’ll mention that the Garmin is also available as the Vivosmart HR that also has GPS for those of you who are interested. However, I have never owned one of those, so I’ll be comparing the Vivosmart HR without GPS to the Charge 2.

The Garmin Vivosmart HR feels kind of like a plastic toy. The band is a kind of stretchy rubber, and it didn’t feel as good as the Fitbit on my wrist. The interface, however, is really nice. The screen is always on, and it’s a touchscreen that works like something I’d expect. To go from one screen to the next, just swipe the screen. There’s a backlight if needed, but I turned off the feature that had it come on when I lifted my wrist because it drained the battery too much.

The Garmin measured all the basics like steps taken, floors climbed, and “intensity minutes,” which is the time you spent doing exercise. The step goal started at 7500 steps and increased every time I made it and decreased when I didn’t. There were exercise modes, but they were limited to run, walk, cardio, and other. I liked up the MapMyFitness app from Under Armour, and it would sync the workouts. However, they all came through as generic workout, and I’d have to manually modify them in MapMyFitness. Like the Fitbit Charge 2, it includes a wrist heart rate monitor, but neither device is one that I’d trust to be spot on. Unlike the Fitbit, it actually has a screen where it would show weather from the smartphone. However, I was never sure how often it updated. The battery always seemed to last the five days claimed by Garmin.

When I had first heard of wrist notifications, I didn’t think they would be all that useful. However, the Garmin showed me otherwise. You can configure it to vibrate when you get a notification from your smartphone. However, with an iPhone, it had an all or nothing policy on it. Either I got every notification that came through your phone (including Facebook and the News app), or I didn’t get anything. Sometimes, the device would quit receiving notifications, and I’d have to turn it off and back on. The vibration was something I wouldn’t miss when it went off, but it was so loud that people around me could hear it buzzing. The device has a screen where you can go back and read missed alerts, but it wasn’t the easiest to use due to the small screen. Since I need an alarm on my watch, I was glad it had a silent alarm that is supposed to vibrate on my wrist and wake me up without waking up my wife. However, you are limited to one alarm at a time, and I like having multiple. Also, don’t forget the aforementioned loudness of the alert. I’m not so sure that the alarm always succeeded in not waking up my wife.

When I switched to the Fitbit Charge 2, I noticed right away that it had a more premium look to it, and the band was so much more comfortable on my wrist. The interface took a bit of getting used to. It’s not so much a touchscreen as a “tap screen,” or so I would call it. The display is not always on, so you have to lift your wrist, push the side button, or double-tap the screen to get it to come up. Once you do, if you configuredthe screen a certain way (you can customize it), you can see your steps and heart rate all at once on a well-lit screen. You can tap it to see other statistics. The button on the side lets you go through other menus. However, the lift to see the screen and the tap feature don’t work perfectly. It can be aggravating to have to tap the thing multiple times to get it to work.

Like the Garmin device, the Fitbit Charge 2 measures steps taken, floors climbed, and time spent in exercise. Exercise modes are available for several different exercises, from walking to lifting weights. However, I had to customize the device to get it to track my walking. You can include connected GPS to allow it to connect with your smartphone and map where you went. I use this every time I go for a walk. Both devices automatically detect a lengthy time period spent active, but only the Fitbit stores it in the main exercise part of the app where it’s easily found. The battery seems like it lasted longer than the rated five days, but it takes longer to charge (1 – 2 hours vs 30 minutes) than the Garmin’s battery. I tried to connect it to MapMyFitness twice, but it didn’t work. However, I found that I no longer need MapMyFitness because the Fitbit app does all that I need it to do.

In fact, the Fitbit app is a major strength of the Fitbit system. You can use it to track not only activity synced from the tracker, but it will track calorie intake, water drinking, and how many days a week you exercise. You can set individual goals for each. However, the step goal that it sets is always a static goal. It doesn’t adjust like the Garmin device does. The app is much nicer to use than the Garmin app. I liked how I could just use the device to start a workout, and I could get it into my phone in my workout history without ever having to actually interact with the phone. My iPhone 5S is rather old and getting slower, so this makes it faster for me to start my walk.

The Fitbit Charge 2 does have wrist alerts. Unlike the Garmin, they are limited to call, text, and calendar alerts. Also unlike the Garmin, you can choose to receive any, all, or none of the available types of alerts. If you only want phone call alerts, you can choose to only be alerted when you have a phone call. The Fitbit does have silent (vibrating) alarms as well, and you can set up to eight different ones. The vibration is more subtle than with the Garmin. This means that it won’t alert everyone around you, but it’s more likely that the alert will be missed. I’ve missed my alarm two or three times since I’ve had the Fitbit.

In the end, I’m still using the Fitbit Charge 2, and I like it better. Despite the fact that the tap interface of the Charge 2 isn’t as smooth as I’d like, the iPhone app, exercise tracking, multiple alarms, the ability to limit what alerts I get, and the comfort of the device on my wrist made me decide that it was a good decision to switch. The Garmin is now available at a lower price, and it’s a good option for people who don’t want to spend the extra money. If you are willing to spend the extra (about $50), I think the Fitbit gives a better experience, and I’d recommend it over the Garmin.

Category: Technology


Videocast: Panasonic GX850 Review

  /   Thursday, February 09, 2017   /   Comments(0)

I’ve been looking for a compact camera to carry around with me, and at just the right time, Panasonic releases the GX850.  I really like Panasonic’s cameras, and this is the second one for me.  In fact, I decided I’d do a video review on my YouTube channel.  I’ve included both sample video and photos from this camera so you can see how well it does.  I think it does pretty well.  It seems like it will be a great camera for vlogging, selfies, and travel.  Oh, and it can even shoot 4K video in clips of up to 5 minutes long.

 

UPDATE:  I had to exchange the first camera I bought because the touch screen stopped responding.  Then, with the second one, I noticed the lens motor in the video, which made it unusable for my purposes.  I returned the camera and will be getting something else, and you can see the video I posted about it here.

Category: Technology, Videos


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