Category Archives: Economy

Christians Persecuted Even More

In case you haven’t heard, our already corrupt world is filled with acts of hate by Muslims. Not only can we read about a mass rape in the Congo in which 240 dear women were harmed horrifically, now there is this story of Christians being excluded from aid in the flooded areas of Pakistan. In fact, local governments are routing the flood waters away from Muslim landowners and into Christian and lower-class villages without warning. Below are snippets from the story, or read the whole article here: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/72113

Christians in Pakistan’s flood-hit regions are doubly affected by the disaster as a result of anti-Christian discrimination by government relief workers and Muslim aid agencies, according to representatives of the embattled minority.

According to the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), Muslim relief organizations and government agencies have been denying assistance to Christians affected by the flooding in Punjab province.

The PCC organ Pakistan Christian Post described the southern Punjab was a “hotbed” of extremist organizations which view Christians as “infidels.” It said local officials in fear of the radical elements were barring Christians from tent camps for flood victims.

On Killing Our President

As soon as I saw it, I wanted to comment on this ridiculous Facebook bit:

Dear Lord,
This year you took my favorite actor, Patrick Swayzie (sic). You took my favorite actress, Farah Fawcett. You took my favorite singer, Michael Jackson. I just wanted to let you know, my favorite president is Barack Obama. Amen.

Problem was, when I read it, I literally got sick at my stomach. I took it as a direct threat on our President and our very nation. As a democracy, we have the right to choose our leader and we chose President Obama. I don’t know that I agree with any of The President’s current policies except his environmental ones. Still, even if we don’t agree with the President we simply MUST respect the office. If we don’t honor the Presidency then we have chaos and our national freedom erodes.

Thankfully, a writer friend of mine found the words I didn’t have over here (click). Here is a preview of what she had to say:

My question is this: How is that different from what John Wilkes Booth wanted? How is that different from what Lee Harvey Oswald wanted? Hundreds of cells of Islamic extremists would cheer with jubilation to see this – or any – American president shot in the street.

Lastly, have you ever noticed how former Presidents reference the sitting President as “The President” or “Mr. President”? Have you noticed how the First Lady of the sitting President always references her husband as “Mr. President” or “The President”? This shows the respect the office deserves. It seems to me that if someone like John McCain can find it fit to honor the office that his political enemy holds after beating him out for the position, we should too.

I also like the history lesson Wikipedia offers:

When George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States in 1789, he initially used the style, “His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties,” a title elaborated by the Joint Congressional Committee on titles over the course of a month. Critics charged that it smacked of monarchy. Washington consented to the demands of James Madison and the United States House of Representatives that the title be altered to “Mr. President.”

So, why all the fuss? Because our freedom deserves our honor and not our cynicism. You don’t have to like The President, but you do have to live with him.

Getting Robbed in a Foreign Country

I have a former employee at my current church who quit working for us to go on a one-year round the world missions excursion on a bare bones budget. Read his commentary on this trip blog.

The crazy news is that he was robbed at gunpoint in Johannesburg last night and all his possessions were taken. If you can send a few extra dollars his way, instructions are below on how to do it. Here is his story on the robbery:

Hello Friends,

James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

I am writing to tell about my experience last night. We have been working in Malawi with Harvest international ministries (HIM) for the past two weeks. Him is a ministry that plants churches in southern Africa and we were working with them in northern Malawi. God has been teaching and growing us there, and we have learned a lot about the history of Slavery, Islam, and Christianity in the region. Our teams have been able to share the gospel and help the Malawians in showing the Jesus film in the local Chichewa language. After they show the movie many people accept Christ and then a church is planted in that village. This month of ministry has been the best yet and I know the devil is trying (but failed) to steal our joy.

We arrived here in Johannesburg last night and were getting ready to leave for India on Friday and Saturday.

Then the unimaginable happened – we were robbed.

I was talking with a friend on another team here in the lobby area of the hostel when 4 gunmen busted in to the hostel saying that this is an armed robbery. At first I didn’t think this was serious, but it soon came to be. One man pointed a gun at my face and cocked it. We were all escorted into the billiard room / bar area and forced to lay face down on the ground. The gunmen said to give them all of our phones and other valuables. They also searched a lot of peoples pockets while we lay on the ground. They said that if we moved they would shoot us and it was a very intense situation. There is a dog that is here and it was barking and the gunmen would yell at it to shut up.

I was getting ready for the dog to get shot but it never was. The girls on our team were even more terrified because when the gunmen went into their room they asked for phones and money. When they said they didn’t have any phones the gunmen were like, “We will have to shoot someone then.” They then cocked their gun to prove the point. No one was shot though.

After about 15 minutes of laying on the ground the robbers left and everyone got up. A lot of the girls were obviously disturbed and we all pulled together. When it was happening we were on the floor praying. And I know God was with us. He always is. Psalm 139 says “Where can I go from your Spirit?” It’s true God is with us always. This robbery was not a surprise to Him and knew it would strengthen us in Him.

I had a lot stolen. My Bible, journal, laptop, camera, iPod, external hard drive, U.S. passport, foreign cash and a lot of other stuff that was in my backpack. They just took my backpack with everything in it. I am sad to lose the stuff, especially my hard drive because I have all the digital pictures I have ever taken since 2000 and all the ones from this year. Luckily they did not take my wallet, just all the cash in it. It was on my bed and they just grabbed the cash out of it. If anyone would like to help me out I would greatly appreciate it and your prayers would be great too for my entire squad. There are others on my team who lost this much and some even more. At least I still have some clothes, albeit a little dirty, but they had theirs taken.

I was able to get my passport replaced today praise God and I will be able to get my India visa tomorrow.

If you would like to send any money, please send checks made out to my father David who will deposit the money for me. If you are going to send any please e-mail me too. Please though, only send money if God leads you to.

David Crouch
4793 Suzette Ave NW
Massillon, OH 44647

Thank you for keeping up with me and supporting me this year. I appreciate you all and can’t wait to see you again. Stuff in life doesn’t matter much so I just want to say that I love you all. Stuff is replaceable but people aren’t. I could have been killed last night, but I have been blessed with life and am going to run after the prize even harder.

Love,
Kelton

Grandmother 2.0

(Mom, I know you are reading this, but I just had to blog this.)

So while laying in the bath (don’t picture it) catching up on my email on my iPhone this morning I get this from my Skype-friendly mother:

>> I noticed that your location on Twitter is still Frisco. I enjoy
>> reading it. Did you get the email from Facebook about adding me?

To which I responded to my mom:

< snip >
> Thankfully I have a policy of never doing anything online that
> my mother would not approve of, so I am safe. You have to be the most
> technically with it woman over 60. You are not supposed to even know what
> Facebook is, much less be on it.
> No, we can’t be friends, you are my mother. The last thing I need is my
> friends ganging up with my mom to do an intervention or something. Yes
> I still have a healthy fear of your wrath and of disappointing you. I
> thought you were retiring to knit, bird watch, and befriend Oprah…what
> is this grandmother 2.0?

I am sure that response will seem harsh to those of you who don’t know exactly how much I really love my momma and how much I admire her. The truth is, she is the one who taught me Windows ’98 and got me my first technology job during that horrible period after school where most of us didn’t have a clear career path.

My point in sharing all of this is to A) brag on my mom to butter her up before she comes to Florida to visit, B) bring out the fact that she isn’t the only older person I am seeing with technical and social software where-with-all. Over the last two years I have had a number of older persons send me “suggestions” about how to improve the websites I oversee, as well as to let me know when something isn’t quite working the way it should. With non-profits, they are especially proficient at online giving and web streaming. It seems they are also highly interested in when events start. Bygones.

What I am trying to say is that I think we now have Grandmother 2.0, which I will define as “a women who has planted two generations of family and knows more than the average Generation X person”. Why Generation X you ask? Because there seems to be a dividing line between most of us and the digital-natives that is marked around 1980.

Is anyone else seeing what I am seeing?

(Mom, I know I told you after you discovered my blog not to comment on posts…but feel free to share your thoughts.)

Why Netflix Gets It and Blockbuster Does Not

So I attempted to cancel my Blockbuster.com subscription a few moments ago because of a bad experience, and had to fill out a survey to get it done. There was a comment field where they asked “How Can We Improve? Would you mind taking a minute to explain why you’ve decided to cancel your account?” So, I was willing to help out and wrote the following in my very sick state (the flu or a cold maybe). Upon submission of the survey, a form error was returned on the comment field which reads: “Please type in 255 characters or less for your comments.”

Apparently, Blockbuster doesn’t want all of my comments or a true discussion with their would-be customers. So, I am posting this to my blog for the world to see and adding the link to the comment field in the Blockbuster.com subscription cancellation field (I doubt they will read it). The first amendment has never been so sweet, has it?

Basically, you guys don’t understand the value of a life-time customer. I went into the store as a Netflix customer who was having a lonely weekend, with not enough movies to entertain me. The wife and I had decided to rent three movies. I saw your TV ad earlier in the day, which communicated to me that I could sign-up for your service and pick up/drop off movies either in the store or online. So, I went to the store to sign up and get three movies.

The high-school aged kid that was there communicated that I would even get a third-movie free tonight with a special coupon they had there. So, I signed up while in the store with him by my side. Filled out the preferences, all my account info (which you already had because I have been a customer for over 10 years), and entered my credit card detals.

I then took my three movies to the counter, where the kid gave me a total of $9.94. I said, “What are you talking about…. I just put in my credit card information in for the monthly service, now I am ready for my movies”. He informed me that the service was only for movies that come through the mail… and that when I return movies at the store that I receive through the mail, then I can get coupons for movies through the store while I wait for more movies to arrive through the mail. I was shocked and confused. I simply said, “But *I am* waiting for my movies to come through the mail”. All he was empowered to do was blink I think, cause he didn’t even call over the manager.

Not being one to quit easily, I communicated that part of the reason I had signed up in store and was willing to move away from Netflix was because it seemed like I could get get the benefit today of Netflix plus in-store pickup. He could not clearly communicate to me the reason why picking up a movie in-store is different than getting it through the mail. From my perspective, I signed up for a Blockbuster service that allowed me to have X number of movies out at any given time, and return in store or via the mail. All I wanted was three movies so I could snuggle up with my wife.

So, Blockbuster, If you really want me as a life-time customer, give me the benefit of what I have paid for NOW. Keep the details of your inventory system, your cost centers, your work-flow, your finances, etc. out of my way and out of sight. Customers don’t care about your pain and are apt to forget you if your pain in getting products to market gets in our way… which is why I am sitting home with the flu today, unwilling to drive down the street and rent from blockbuster.

Thankfully my single Netflix movie came last night… and guess what, they sent it to me when my list was empty, anticipating the type of movie I would enjoy. And it looks like they got it right. They understand that to keep a customer you have to lower the barriers that get in the way of the customer relationship. Blockbuster, you could learn a lesson there.

Now, to all you other companies out there, if you care for me as the customer and want me to evangelize your products, you will empower me to do so as early as you can… with no hassle or waiting, or uninformed high-school kids.

Netflix Gift Certificate I Can Send to Friends

On Mercenary Killings and the Love of Hunting

If you know me, you know it is time for the beard. The beard is the annual signal to friends and family that it is now hunting season. This is that time of year when men, women, and children all over the US prepare to hunt the warm-blooded beauty of God’s creation, the white-tailed deer. For real hunters, which I would arbitrarily define as someone who thinks about hunting at-least weekly, hunting isn’t only a hobby, a pastime, or a sport, but a lifestyle choice.

Let’s face it, hunting isn’t popular. The vast majority of the American population look down their noses at this timeless tradition. Some of my own family (not blood related) are content to pay others to kill their meat for them. The defense is often that the animal is raised specifically for their consumption. As though this reasoning can wipe the blood from under the finger-nails of their hired mercenaries. Oh no, this reasoning will not stand. At the turn of the century there were not a hundredth of the number of white-tail deer that there are today. You see, hunting has made the white-tail deer population grow. Through improving habitat, self-selecting mature animals to kill, supporting state and federal agencies with their license fees, and through spending their money on the sport, hunters have enabled white-tail deer to flourish both directly and indirectly. In a very real sense, deer are raised specifically for the hunter’s pleasure and consumption.

I could make this post four or five times longer than this with all the reasons why hunting is good for our environment and our nation, but I will hold off. I won’t bring up things like the fact our best snipers learned to shoot and kill when hunting as youth. I won’t bring up the fact that overpopulation of deer can ruin our environment in the absence of a serious predator, or that deer herds contract massive epidemics when over-population occurs. I will leave out the fact that prior to 250 years ago, if you weren’t hunting or hiring those who did, you didn’t eat much meat in this country. I won’t focus now on the reality that a cleanly placed shot by a hunter on large game is a way of honoring these animals and that the alternative method of gathering meat for the family is much more cruel and unclean.

I am going to leave that out, and instead show you a picture of the crossbow I got a really sweet deal on a few weeks ago. crossbow.jpgThis crossbow will help me honor the following commandment by God about his economy and have a lot of fun in the process:

Genesis 1 (NASB)
V.27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

YouTube – Day of the Longtail

Day of the Longtail – This video gives a bit of an overview of the struggles the media and entertainment giants are having with the community of bloggers. The “Longtail” itself as a term has been around awhile and the statistical phenom probably since the beginning of time.

Wikipedia Has this:

The phrase The Long Tail, as a proper noun, was first coined by Chris Anderson. The concept drew in part from an influential essay by Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality” that noted that a relative handful of weblogs have many links going into them but “the long tail” of millions of weblogs may have only a handful of links going into them. Beginning in a series of speeches in early 2004 and culminating with the publication of a Wired magazine article in October 2004, Anderson described the effects of the long tail on current and future business models. Anderson later extended it into the book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More (2006).

Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Examples of such mega-stores include the online retailer Amazon.com and the online video rental service Netflix. The Long Tail is a potential market and, as the examples illustrate, successfully tapping in to that long tail market is often enabled by the distribution and sales channel opportunities the Internet creates.

Running small teams… a different philosophy

Jason Fried Video
A plenary address at the Collaborative Technologies Conference on Tuesday was delivered by Jason Fried, the CEO of 37Signals. His lecture was titled, “Small Is Beautiful.” Here’s the lecture, in its entirety.

I am not a huge fan of Jason Fried in particular (has made some real blunders when commenting on his and others’ blogs), but I sure love 37signals software services. In general I agree with a lot of the philosophy he outlines in the speech… particularly the focus on efficiency, quiet time, trimming the fat (my interpretation). If you are a small company who needs to compete with the big guys, I recommend you listen in.