Archives for the Month of April 2008 on Through the Magnifying Glass

Another reason to avoid Scientology

ABCNEWS - Ex-Scientology Kids Share Their Stories

Former Scientologists, Including Church Leader's Niece, Share Stories With 'Nightline'

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Honestly, thank god we haven't see Scientology clubs popping among college campuses. Luckily, I haven't had to deal with that while I was VP of Finance in USG.

Proud to be a Phikap during Greek Week

In the past, Phikaps are known to have caused the judges at Greek Week to issue or modify rules based on what they did for banner or any part of the GW competition. It would seem we certainly do love to push the envelope, and unfortunately, it deprives the rest of the fraternities and sororities from enjoying the fun.

I guess it probably started way back when I was a senior in 2000. Our banner was the saloon, and it took weeks to build, and we really believed that it was a sure-win at the banner competition. Instead, our saloon was disqualified!!!

The reason: When the judges were reviewing the saloon, they noted that two of our brothers who were standing on top of it were considered part of the banner. Therefore, they judged that the banner exceeded the maximum height of the structure as defined by the competition rules.

Who would have thought that if a person that was standing on the saloon, it would have exceeded the 12-foot restriction? Sure, if it was known ahead of time, no one would have been standing on top of it. I considered it a poor decision choice from the judges. I also considered the rule saying that anything touching the banner be included in the measurements not in the best traditions of the Greek Week banner event competition. My personal opinion, of course, and I am sure those past GW judges thought the same way after it was said and done.

The banner disqualification was a turning point in how we performed during the rest of Greek Week 2000. We thought about pulling out of the competition. Some thought we were cheated. Others thought it was all a plan to get us kicked out of the event. Certainly, a lot of other chapters expressed disappointment about our saloon getting DQ'ed.

Instead, we decided to fight back with the best Greek spirit ever seen. We showed up in numbers at all the events, cheering on our fellow brothers as well as other chapters. At the end of Rope Pull, we got the Greek Spirit trophy. At the end of that year, our chapter got the Agnar Pytte Cup. At our National Convention that year, we got the Founders' Cup.

It was one of the proudest years I had while I was a Phikap.

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In keeping up the spirit of being a Phikap, the guys made t-shirts for this year's theme: The Legend Continues...

It is without doubt that Greek Week themes in the past have been dumb, corny, and a bit stupid. Honestly, we should do away with these themes.

The Front:


The Back:


Red Sox Fan catches foul ball, then later drops it

Ahh, priceless!

Go Yankees! =)

Let's change last night's ABC Democratic Debate to Guess How Many Camera Shots of Chelsea Clinton were made

The Washington Post was clearly correct when it concluded that ABC was the loser in last night's Democratic debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Almost half of the two-hour debate was focused on the gossip trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed. I guess they wanted the candidates to start sniping at each other over stuff that is no longer news, but it looks like ABC is still trying to beat up a dead horse.

I would also believe that ABC thinks the voters would love Barack and Hillary go at each other like little school kids, and that the real economic, social, and political issues do not matter.

Good open letter from Philadelphia Daily News to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanapoulos.

Monster US embassy in Iraq is ready

The over-budgeted U.S. embassy is now ready for occupancy. The bloated $730 million facility was given the "certificate of occupancy" by Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy.

It is completely fortified, located inside the Green Zone, and allows staff to move into its 27 buildings.

Kennedy got the ok, after receiving assurances from experts that fire, electrical, mechanical, and communication tests have passed. Anyone willing to bet their lives on that? Hmmm.

The facility is supposed to provide secure housing. Unfortunately, none of the buildings are equipped with special repelling paint that would cause mortars and bombs to bounce off the buildings. The Vatican-size compound would still give insurgents a large target where they could not miss.

It's not that hard. The color and building style would be a complete giveaway. Plus, how can we be so sure that it will protect staff and security forces? The project went over by 6 months. There are allegations that the main contractor, First Kuwait, has committed fraud in building our facility.

I wonder how historians would view this $730 million dollar monster. A sore sight for the Iraqis or a symbol of a crumbling neo-con dream of an American empire.

Link (CNN)

Just a reminder: JibJab reminds us what is news

Secret US Plan for Iraq

As discovered by the Guardian UK newspaper...

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked "secret" and "sensitive", is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without time limit.

Who's going to pay the bill? We are.

Ron Paul questions the Iraq War

Both Petraeus and Crocker avoided his questions.

MacArthur gives a Ron Paul example

General Douglas MacArthur (1957):

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear--kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fevor--with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.

Kids' Dress-Up Day called controversial

Years before political correctness became the rule of the land, high school senior class students would hold a "Role-Reversal Day" as part of Senior Week where students would dress up as the opposite sex. In college, there would be parties where males dress up as females and vice-versa. It was all done in spirit of good fun and silliness. I could still remember when one guy dressed up as Madonna with the pointed bra. It was so funny.

The notion of these students trying to promote alternative lifestyles or transgenderism was unheard of. It would have been the last thing to cross their minds.

Of course, some folks today believe that doing such a thing is completely taboo and might even (shudder) cause a fellow student to think he/she is a different sex. Some call it un-Christian.

Are such reactions exaggerated? Or justified?

It appears that students at Pineview Elementary decided to do a "Senior Citizen and Opposite Gender" day as part of this year's Wacky Week. Every year, the students would do a different theme meant to boost classroom energy at the end of winter. This year, students can dress up as senior citizens or as members of the opposite sex.

The opposite sex theme must have gotten a fellow local resident upset so that person informed the Voice of Christian Youth America, a Milwaukee-based radio network that aired on nine radio stations throughout Wisconsin. The radio network, believing that demons have overtaken the school, issued a special broadcast alert. They criticized the dress-up day and accused the district of promoting alternative lifestyles.

At this point, did the radio network issue their special broadcast based on the opinions of this one local resident? Did they contact the school to find more about this Wacky Week event? It would seem a bit stupid to base your findings on only one source. Most of the news stories talked about one local resident calling the radio station about the event.

Jim Schneider, Network's program director:
"We believe it's the wrong message to send to elementary students. Our station is one that promotes traditional family values. It concerns us when a school district strikes at the heart and core of the Biblical values. To promote this to elementary-school students is a great error."

Vic Eliason, VP and Exec Director of VCY America:
"If it was some kind of silly party, a birthday or fun, this is not an issue. We're not against kids having fun. But one of the things that has happened of late is the issue of gender and transgenderism, and these are deeply held issues within the family."

Being that only one side of the story was aired over the radio network, calls complaining about the event flooded the school and the Reedsburg School District office.

I would expect most of the calls were pretty much accusing the school trying to promote alternative lifestyles, that it was alright for boys and girls to pretend like girls and boys respectively, and other unethical things.

Shari Miller, Student Senate Advisor:
"We didn't think about it like that, the kids didn't think about it like that. And therefore, that's why we went with it. We never thought that anything would come about like this."

Principal Tammy Hayes:
"We did not mean to offend anybody by accepting the children's idea here and the children certainly did not mean any ill will by choosing this day."

The principal noted that no one had raised any objections beforehand. She said a flier detailing Wacky Week had been sent home with children the prior week, and an announcement was also included in teacher newsletters.

Of course, they did not ask the Christian Youth America group. Maybe there should be a CYA censor at the school to make sure Christian valued themes are taught over there. Yes, we do not want to have corruptive, adult-style themes that would damage the children. Could we please exercise some common sense?

Honestly, imagine if it were medieval times, the school would be razed and the heretics burned at the stake.

It sounds to me that if a school wants to hold an event, they have to literally ask everyone living in the district including residents that do not have any children.

I can help write the form....

"Dear Resident,

Despite the fact that you do not have a student going to Pineview Elementary School, we just wanted to let you know that we are holding a Opposite Sex Event where males and females will undergo surgery and become members of the opposite sex. If you have any objection, please contact the Reedsburg School District office. Thank you."

Anyhow, the school district wanted to stop the complaints, so they decided that Wacky Week will still continue, but Opposite Gender Day would not be on the list for students to choose.


The Revolution: A Manifesto - Ron Paul

Buy the book (

Possible photo doctoring by China on Tibetan riots


The post shows a photo where a dressed up Tibetan brandishing a knife is shown with other protestors. It is later revealed that this so-called "Tibetan" was a Chinese policeman.

Of course, after his identity was revealed, Chinese media sites cropped out his figure from the photo.

2008 Pig Book Released - CAGW

Citizens Against Government Waste have compiled a list of all pork-barrel projects in the federal budget.

The 2008 Version can be found here

For my Congressman, NJ 11th District, Frelinghuysen has submitted 42 projects totaling $86.8 million dollars.

Jesse Ventura unloads

Pro-Wrestler-turned-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura went on Larry King Live Tuesday and unloaded on a variety of topics, including his take on the 2008 presidential candidates, what he's looking for in a commander-in-chief, and whether he plans on running for president.

Ventura told King that he thinks it's time for a revolution in the United States, that we are a nation of "lemmings," and that the only difference between the two major political parties and street gangs are that the politicians wear Brooks Brothers suits.


Absolut Vodka - Controversial Ad?


This is probably the first time I have seen Absolut Vodka did more than shaping photos with the vodka bottle figure.

Another interesting thing note is that this ad appeared in Mexico and on Mexican magazines.


Update 4/4:

Looks like someone did a photoshop change to the ad.


Anyone else wants to offer any new ones?

A credit card to avoid...

credit_cards.jpgThere are quite a lot of credit card offers that you get in the mail that may offer 0% APR for a limited time, or a high credit line, or even free online credit scores at no charge.

Here's one credit card offer that I got in the mail from Credit One Bank.

It promises me, after a credit check, a line of credit up to $1,000, plus free online monthly credit score, free account updates, and I get to pick my own payment date. Oh yea, I also get automatic credit line increase reviews.

These are the only positives for this offer.

The negatives...

1) APR is 23.90%!!! Not even a promotion rate.

2) There is an annual free of $69.00. But it is stretched over the year so it is $5.75 per month.

3) An enrollment fee of $69.00. Of course, one-time only fee.

4) It does not mean you will get a credit line of $1,000, but up to that amount. So the lowest credit line you can possibly receive from Credit One is $200.00. So if you do get $200, then your remaining credit would be $125.25 (b/c of the annual and enrollment fees).

Really, how can you build your credit on this card?

The card is more likely to wreck your credit score instead of improving it.