Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: National Dissipation and Soren Kierkegaard

National Dissipation
and Søren Kierkegaard

Part 1

dis·si·pa·tion –noun

a wasting by misuse: the dissipation of a fortune.
mental distraction; amusement; diversion.
dissolute way of living, esp. excessive drinking of liquor;intemperance.

Perhaps the beginner of historical provocateurs from the 1800’s, Kierkegaard lived as he lived in order to, as he put it: “create difficulties everywhere.” Living from 1813-1855, he was a man whom many of those who were to come later largely ignored and yet, his work influenced them with an “underground” thought life. Such other figures as Freud, Marx and Wellhausen could not have largely cared for Soren Kierkegaar or his writings, but little did they understand the ground floor influence he had over their own writings and others whose influence we still feel today in our society, much to our own regret.

His writings were often uninhibited but also cryptic. In fact, it took about a hundred years before his writings were given the light of day in the English language. When they did appear in English, they made quite the bombastic arrival upon the scene, as they were exactly the kind of thoughts that the world was looking for at that time. Known as the “melancholy dane” he was more often than not a sort of “God drunk”, if you will.

Considering the content of his writings and the brisk pace and fanciful nature they contained, it is surprising that he had almost no influence at all and remained unknown in the English speaking world until around one hundred years after his death. One possibility for this anonymity can be found in the makeup of western society during his lifetime.

Leading To Kierkegaard

The 1800’s were perhaps the most colorful and multifaceted of any century known to man in terms of the philosophical and religious influences that still remain with us today. Wellhausen’s arguments against the inspiration of Biblical scripture and the resulting rise of religious liberalism swept across Europe and attempted to conquer the west at the turn of the century. Liberal Christianity was the “cool thing to do” of the day.

In the early 1900’s, the liberal view of Christianity was a dominant thought process among denominations and schools of thought and education. Groundless human optimism was now the idol of the day and replaced the categoric theoloical tenets taught from the Bible. The deity of Christ was rendered irrelevant in the minds of the intellectual elite, and infected the common man also. Jesus became a teacher like any other historical figure, and a good man who taught about love and peace among all mankind. The cross became a metaphor for sacrificial living and less and less of an act of REAL salvation for a fallen mankind.

Personal salvation became an anachronism as education, optimism, positive thinking and noble ideals became the substitute. Darwinian evolution had made salvation more of a deliverance from selfishness and anger rather than any kind of window into everlasting life. Such a thing was now considered “grandpa and grandma’s” ideas.

Hope for the future had become, as it is today, a project of improving the world. Waiting on the blessed hope of a return of Christ was a nice idea, but obviously just a “social convention”. For the church, and I specify the Christian church, the mission was more or less now a matter of improving society. Despite the unflinching position of scripture, and especially the ideas of Revelation, Daniel and other books of the Bible that deal with end time prophecy, the mental attitude of the church shifted from the horrors for mankind that those books promise, to a more rational position of the church itself re-making mankind and society in order to create a perfect world for Christ to return to.

Happy Days are Here Again

The early decades of the 1900’s found the new human millennium a proud focus of the day. The World Council of Churches was formed. The National Counsel of Churches was formed in America. Christianity was now this kind of “thing” without form that moved among the people and made them “giddy” with a hope they had never known before. The future simply HAD to get better and better.

The world was now, after all, beyond the dark ages. There would be no war or famine or pestilence. The level of intelligence among man had reached an all time high. Never again would there be bloody conflict, ......for man had figured it all out.

So long sad times, Go long bad times, We are rid of you at last

Howdy gay times, Cloudy gray times, You are now a thing of the past

Happy days are here again, The skies above are clear again, So let’s sing a song of cheer again, Happy days are here again

Altogether shout it now, There’s no one, Who can doubt it now, So let’s tell the world about it now, Happy days are here again

Your cares and troubles are gone, There’ll be no more from now on, From now on ...

Happy days are here again, The skies above are clear again, So, Let’s sing a song of cheer again

Happy times, Happy nights, Happy days Are here again!

Copyrighted in 1929 by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen

Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

It was also thought that the 1929 crash was actually a great spiritual lesson. Man should not speculate on his hard earned cash for future monies and also keep money stored away that could have assisted the poor. The depression made everyone nicer and more considerate as the whole nation shared in a group hug of sympathy while experiencing the same afflictions. Very familiar isn’t it? When you consider that the polls of our present day show that people are now considering relationships and family more important than material wealth buildup during our current financial crisis. Sure, this is a good thing, but one hopes it isn’t just a result of the price for such thinking being within reach of everyone’s pocketbook.

Advances in science and technology also had the world thinking with Pollyannaish aplomb. Surely the world was coming together under the umbrella of progress promised by all the new inventions of the last 150 years. This would surely promote a shared vision among the whole world. In their foggy utopian dream world, the nations of the world then watched with bemusement as a power seeker in Germany made promises to the German people that it was they who were destined to rule this new world of mankind.

Germany was an amazing place to be at the time. It lead the world in philosophy, theology, medicine, and many forms of theology, and also including early work on a little something called “splitting the atom”. Hitler, with his thousands of brown shirted social control followers, and millions of troops, moved into the deadly business of war. This was no utopian peaceful takeover. This was the ugly, sinful side of man once again raising its “hydra” like head.

Cut Off One Head, Another Grows

Stalin, too, was a part of this dragon headed menace that rose up in the early 1900’s. Kulaks and Ukrainians were virtually exterminated. Christians and Jews alike were brutally persecuted in this dangerously communist land. The world ignored the Bolsheviks too, just like the Nazis, and the promise to bring communism to the whole world. Communist organizations were allowed inside of America’s own political structures, much to their own future dismay.

In today’s world we have the radical Islamic Muslim threat which has already made itself know with the attack on the World Trade Center and the ongoing terrorist threat. Recently thousands showed up to protest the proposed erection of a Muslim mosque on the site of the World Trade Center, and the national news gave it barely a passing thought. Jailed and outraged movie stars were more important to the news of the day. Few realize that America is full of mole cells all across the nation. These are people who are working and living the American way of life just like you and me, yet they are waiting for the mass call to arms, and when that day comes millions of neighborhoods will be under siege. Try and remember that I told you that when you find nothing wrong with President Obama claiming America is NOT a Christian nation. Our Muslim President.

How to Take Over A Country

Connecting back to the early 1900’s, there was in Italy a new thing called Fascism that was taking hold. It’s leader was Benito Mussolini. No matter what you call it, Fascism, Nazism, or Communism, they are all basically the same things, a political excuse for a dictator to grab a country. They kill all those who disagree with them and beat the country into submission by forcing their will upon the people, much like signing bills into law that the majority did not vote for. It is amazing to me how western intellectuals concern themselves with epistemological niceties and social conventions when in fact there are cruel brutalities behind all of these so called social reforms.

All of these “social reforms” lead to World War II. How could this be? Wasn’t mankind beyond all this? Had not we all figured it out? We had relegated the Bible and God’s Word to a quaint thing of the past that had been a figment of the uneducated, we were better than that now. We had evolved. And yet, here we were again. Surely that couldn’t be. Surely we could now provide our own salvation.

World War I was a piker compared to the carnage of WWII. Man’s invention, fueled by his quest for power, now marched millions of troops into the hell of mass murder under the guise of wartime. Planes flew high and into the night, entombed like the sacrificial right. Rockets few over great distances and blew human bodies into multiple pieces like so much shark chum. The massive explosion of cordite and hatred that was World War II was brought to a halt by atomic clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Forty or fifty million people had died in the war, and the bulk of the world’s substance had disappeared in the conflagration, trillions of dollars of it.


The world was now stunned at it’s own lack of control over events. How could all this have happened? Weren’t we now evolved beyond such things? The world turned to the church at this time for the answers to the grander scale. But the true church had been removed. The liberal church now had it’s place, and had been caught with its pants down, so to speak. The majority of society now felt betrayed by the church. They had surely been hoodwinked. Millions of grave sites filled with young men who had been full of promise now presented a cold slap of reality to those who had believed the church when it said that mankind had outgrown the old teachings of the Bible.

Classic religious liberalism rolled over and died. The liberal establishment now needed a new clarion call. The educational world now joined them in this quest for something else to hang their hat on in the search for answers. Liberalism was a myth that had been blackjacked and crated by the stubborn facts of reality.

And that’s where Kierkegaard comes in.

More on this next time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: What Gives Meaning To Life?

What Gives Meaning To Life?

There was a famous holy man who once wrote about an experience he had:

He was sitting on a beach one bright and beautiful summer day, watching a little boy and girl play in the sand. They were hard at work making an elaborate sand castle. It had gates and towers and moats and such. Just as they had finished the marvel of industrial ingenuity, a large wave came along and knocked it down turning it into a heap of wet sand. He fully expected that the children would scream and cry at the devastation, but instead, they ran up the shore away from the water, laughing and holding hands, and began to build another castle. What an important lesson that was! All those things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating are really built on sand. Only our relationships to one another endure. Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has someone’s hand to hold will be able to laugh.

I remember when I was younger, not necessarily when I was young, coming to the realization that life was not going to unfold like a Disney movie. I chuckle a bit at the resolution of TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show, that today are touchingly quaint and quite out of schism with the world we know today. But mostly, one can see how, if you look back at history, they were also a little out of touch with their own times. The paradigm being, that if you just work hard, were sincere, and didn’t do anything foolish, everything would work out the way you wanted it to.

Conversely, many things do not work out as we would like them, no matter how hard we work, no matter how honest we are, no matter how much we do for our fellow man. (and you ARE doing for your fellow man, right?)

Most of us in our lives have either believed we could or perhaps have valiantly tried to extract what we want from life. We crave for meaning, we demand purpose and we long for something to stay fulfilling and satisfying for the whole of our lives. But life has it’s own ideas. It tends to stare back at us with blank, uncaring eyes and deeply implies the inexorable finality of it’s own indomitable position in reality.

What do we want from life that it seems to have promised but has also seemed to have ignored with it’s own non-proffered ability? We thought we’d get meaning, purpose and love. We thought that we could succeed, that we would matter and perhaps make a difference. And that someone somewhere would care.

If you look again at the ruins of ancient Rome, a once gloriously painted city of stone and mortar, filled with a teaming populace that cared for and enjoyed it’s heightened civilization; you realize that if the buildings could speak, they would cry and wish for oblivion. Time moved on without them. Their people, their creators no longer walk their roads and tread down their halls. It’s a good thing for them they ARE just stone and brick and cement, for what soul could live with such long term abandonment?

But what if things are different for us? What if things are just beginning when we come to the place where we realize that if we had not lived as long as we have, or if we had perhaps not be born, that the world would have gone on without us? What if it’s a privileged to come to the end of our questions and have no answers?

When you reach a critical juncture in your life, that point where failure and hopelessness seem inevitable. We must seize the day! We must grasp the moment! Kick and spit and growl all you want, but when you come to the end of yourself, all you have left is the reality of God. And there is the place where you will find the deepest answers, no matter how much you want to live in denial, no matter how much you want it to be something else, something that makes YOU feel good or promotes the pride of life and mankind as a force to be celebrated. If it were not so, then your inner soul would be satisfied with those things, you would have found an answer there instead of a million different offerings provided from the world for the world. I once asked an adult, when I was a teen, what life was all about. And they told me it’s different for different people... no it’s not, that’s just their programming speaking, not a reality.

One of the promises of God is that even the most evil of persons can be saved from and eternity without him if they will only call on the name of Jesus. Even if that person is on his deathbed, having not done anything worthy himself. But unfortunately, our pride and dependence on cursed flesh guides us to take a multitude of answers that are NOT Jesus, down blind alleys that twinkle in front of our eyes like a Christmas ornament in front of a kitten or car keys in front of a baby, and we like it, and we reach out for it. And we fail to find those answers we long for.

It wasn’t all that long ago, that a favorite singer of mine committed suicide. He gassed himself to death and left behind a note to his fiance’ explaining his actions. In the note he told of how much of a lonely soul he was. The implication here is that he, like us all, was seeking an answer to his unhappiness, a cure if you will, for his depression. Well, we all seek happiness, and it is the motivation for practically everything we do, whether it is giving to a telethon or helping the homeless on the street; or perhaps it is other activities not so honorable. Whatever the case, churches and happy hours are full of people looking for happiness.

There is something we absolutely have to get past. Something we have to force ourselves to accept or else we will never find that happiness to fill that void that sits in the pit of our being calling out to be filled. Basically, it’s NOT our universe. Not OUR reality. And that is the answer. That is why it’s actually a great thing to come to the end of your rope. Until we do, we will be looking about a maze of offerings from the world that all lead to other answers and other answers and other answers. We were meant for God. We were created for God. And not just God, but Jesus Christ. I know for many, you can take the idea of God, but you scoff at the notion of Jesus, and that in itself, is proof of your separation form him. For if it didn’t bother you, then you could take his name and position just as easily as God. But God, for many, can be whatever they want. You can’t do that with Jesus, and this is some proof people, for God says you are separated from him, and he and Jesus are one.

3,000 years ago King Solomon wrote that he had tried everything. He was surrounded by wealth, treasure, pleasure, accomplishment, relationships, loved by man and had over a thousand wives and concubines, all the trappings of fame, and yet he did not find satisfaction. He was a winner to a far greater degree than any of us have time, talent and money to succeed and he said it was like trying to catch the wind. Just ask Michael Jackson. Just ask Rodney Dangerfield, a man who made many laugh over forty or so years with his self deprecating humor. He owned a house in California and a club in New York. He could treat the whole country as his home, he could fly anywhere and knew scores and scores of people, as could Michael Jackson. But Rodney was quoted as saying before he died, that he never really was happy. I think you know good and well Michael Jackson’s position.

Some say poverty is the reason for crime, yet there are poor people who are never criminals. Also, there are rich people who ARE criminals, and those who are not. It’s not enough to be talented and wealthy, or to just be poor so as not to get into trouble; for there are many troublesome things that can come your way if you DO have money and power. We find ourselves unhappy and we look for a fulfillment, a filling of the void, but we just can’t bring ourselves to bow our knee and let God, Jesus, be the Lord of our lives... for surely you will not be fulfilled. Surely you will not finally find that void filled.

And who told you that? Who told you you were naked?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Car Dealership Hell

Car Dealership Hell

Over the last ten years or so, it has been my privilege to work for not one, but two automobile dealerships in the same capacity. Once on a while you can find a dealership that is interested in someone doing their “in house” advertising, that is creation of their ads for print and radio, right there on the property itself. As a graphic designer I have done this twice in two different states and have been exposed to some of the most interesting inside information and bizarre behavior that one would never guess was even possible of mature, working adults.

First of all, you must put away all assumptions on which you have been raised about what happens in a car dealership day in and day out. This also includes some of you who already suspect much of what I am about to tell you. Selling is a tough enough job for anyone, as it involves going for another person’s wallet on a consistent basis to earn a living. I do indeed feel for the person who has to do this every day. Some people are good at it, I suppose, and they find no problem with the exercise, and it’s important that they feel this way, for it is integral to their success.

I myself, however, have never felt that this sort of thing was a good idea and I doubt I ever will. That probably goes a long way to answering the question as to why I have never been able to make any money at this sort of selling. I have, to be sure, done several jobs in the past such as retail, and for quite a few years in my younger days I was a framer. I enjoyed that sort of work, for I could actually help out customers who needed assistance and I didn’t feel there was anything improper going on behind the scenes. This doesn’t hold true for auto dealerships and I have long spouted off about the many things I have been witness to as I toiled away in the little side office with the glass wall window and the two little seats that had no salesman to occupy them.

About twelve years ago in a small town in the south I had my first assignment while I also worked for a major newspaper in the area. This was my first exposure to the incongruity of image to that of reality put forth by public advertising performed by major auto makers which is broadcast all over the country. While toiling away at the little in house computer, I had a front row seat for things rarely seen and rarely felt. There was of course, the usual standing around of salesman all day. They stand around the showroom floor of the dealership for about 10 hours a day, and they work usually six days a week. Always in dress shirt and tie, they endeavor to make the best impression on practically anyone who enters the car lot, or the showroom. But that is pretty much where it all ends.

One particularly slow day at the first dealership, and there are many, many slow days, four salesman where so board with the lack of business that they lined up on the road, a nice sized four lane highway about twenty yards from the show room floor, and if anyone even thought to slow down to turn into the car lot, they all reached for the car door handle at the same time. The car was still moving, engine was still running and the embarrassed driver was red faced and frightened. The idea, of course, was to greet the customer first and get his attention, for once a salesman has gotten your attention and talked to you, NO ONE ELSE CAN! They would slap and punch each other aside as they jockeyed for the door handle even before the driver came to a complete stop. I remember watching this one day from my little office in the corner and seeing grown men in their forties, some older, get into a literal fist fight out in the lot over the possession of a customer. I kid you not.

After watching this sort of behavior, I once got a chance to chat with the manager of the dealership and I asked him about some of the things that go on there, for they sure didn’t seem to match up with the commercials on TV. A prime example of laugh out loud fantasy would be those Honda ads where the salesman informs you that it’s his job to be helpful. I chuckle as I write that, for it is by no stretch of the imagination a car salesman’s job to be helpful.

I was informed by the manager, with practically no emotion or concern in his voice that many car dealerships prefer to hire ex-convicts as salesman, and much of the habits they form in prison follow them into the working world. I found that to be logical and also a bit alarming, having bought a few cars from dealerships myself. Yes, I found out, I probably somewhere and somehow did business with an ex-prisoner. But why, I asked, are they hired with open arms? I was told they are more productive. Really? I asked. Ex-convicts make more productive salesman? Oh yes, I was told with a wink and a nod, they don’t mind at all!

Got that folks? Ex-convicts don’t mind at all.

After my stint there, I didn’t think too much more about this as I had signed it all off to small town America placed almost invisibly along side the open stretches of highway between the major towns of our nation, where there is nothing to do and no place to go except church on Sunday. Surely, I thought, this can’t be the way things are, like say, inside a dealership in a major metropolitan city. Surely, I knew, that if I were only to see a dealership from the inside, in say, the second largest city in America, I would indeed find modern and sophisticated personages happy and busy at the work of promoting a major auto brand that everyone knew and loved all over our glorious land, the home of the brave, the land of the free.


My second auto dealership was just such the venue from which I was now going to find out just how different things must be. As before, I joined a major car brand dealership to handle their in-house advertising and in the meantime, unbeknown to them, I was now going to get the inside scoop on things, hopefully from a mature and progressive point of view. There was a young man, about the age of twenty two, let’s call him Tony, who began a job selling cars in this particular dealership about the same time I had arrived. His office was next to the one they gave me for the computer generated ads and I was able to “pick his brains” on many things during the short time he stayed there.

He did, as many salesmen seem to do all over America, stand around a lot, for hours at a time. We were located on the major thoroughfare in the area, so therefore there was no big highway to go stand out on. Most of the day, for everyone, was spent in the confines of the dealership showroom floor. In fact, if one of the salesman did indeed get someone to sell to, they had to walk a block down the street to a small fenced in lot that had a discouragingly small amount of inventory. The idea being that one had to sell what they had on the small lot, not acquiesce to customers who wanted something the dealership could not put in storage.

Tony stood around for ten hours a day, just like the salesmen at the other dealership I had been at. He was required to be on duty on Saturdays even if he was ill, in fact they told him to get another job if he couldn’t make a Saturday, no matter what the reason.

One day he had a couple of customers come in whom he managed to land while others were either busy or looking the wrong way. They were a couple of young men who were from a local church, one was an assistant to a pastor, I believe he told me, and the other was a young man who was on a work furlough from prison who was trying to put his life back together. Well, they were nice enough, he told me, and he did his best to try and give them good service, which I do believe was his true intention.

The pastor’s assistant, however, knew his way around a car sale better than Tony did, who was called a “greenie” by the salesmen, and dickered a bit too much for the young man. Seeing this, the assistant manager decided to take charge of a sales situation that was taking way to long for Tony to complete and systematically got into a loud and nasty shouting match right on the sales room floor with the pastor’s assistant, finally telling him to get the f**k out of his dealership right in front of anyone who was within the next block to hear.

After all, it’s his job to be helpful.

The assistant manager was all smiles after this, patting Tony on the back and telling him not to worry about it, despite the fact that the man had just blown Tony’s first sale. You have to understand, he told Tony, customers are stupid and they have to be shown who’s boss. Yes, you read that right, customers are stupid. This was not the first time I had heard this in dealing with the inside workings of car dealerships, but I had no idea it could be so widespread.

Yes, they do indeed believe you and I are stupid. And that’s the word they use. Additionally, they believe that much of what they have to do to sell cars is the customer’s fault. If only you and I weren’t so afraid of commitment, they tell me, then they wouldn’t have to shove you off the cliff, so to speak, when buying a car. You should thank car salesman for their abuse, and there is really no other way to put this, their “trickery” when selling you a car. It’s your own fault!

Tony didn’t make very many friends working at the dealership - he wasn’t allowed to. Older and more larcenous salesman made him a target and even used to call him “fugly” to his face. For anyone who doesn’t know, the term “fugly” is a derisive term composed of two other words, one of them being the word “ugly”.

One day, Tony casually spoke with a customer who was milling around the showroom floor, he didn’t know another salesman had already approached the person, and he only spoke with them for a moment. Later that day, while he was standing around again, the larger and more aggressive salesman who was only moments before, laughing and chatting with another salesman, suddenly saw Tony standing outside on the sidewalk and charged out there after him. He pushed his chest into Tony’s much like football players who “bump” each other after a stellar play, and put his face right into Tony’s face and yelled, “What the f**k is wrong with you, fugly????? You never talk to another man’s customer!!!!” Was there a fist fight? No, but then, since this man was an ex-prisoner, it was perhaps best.

Tony was constantly dogged by this man the whole time he was there and had to take up the practice of standing around on the opposite side of the dealership from wherever the man was. I could see him moving around from outside of my office in direct tandem relationship to wherever the other man was, if the man moved left, Tony moved right, and visa versa. A wonderful way to spend ten hours a day.

Tony landed another customer one day and was in the middle of doing the four square and the “going back and forth to see the manager” in brokering the deal. The customer was there at the dealership all day, as is the plan, and they spent way too much time for my taste sitting in the office Tony had, all by themselves.

Getting up for a break, I went into the break room the dealership had only to see Tony and another salesman sitting there watching soap operas on the TV set in the break room. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was going over the deal he was trying to make with the manager. Really? I said with a bit of surprise, eyeballing the TV set with General Hospital on the broadcast. Yes, he told me, if the customer is here until about 4pm, then they will be more ready to make a deal that the manager will give his okay on. “Weren’t they here early this morning like about 8 or 9am?” I asked him. Yes that’s true, he told me, but the manager won’t let him do this any other way, and besides, their keys are on the roof anyway.

“Their keys are on the roof?” I asked. “Yes, I had to take their car to be judged for the trade-in and I was told to throw their keys on the roof in case they tried to leave too soon.” This is done to stall you at all costs I am told, never never, give them your whole ring of keys. Never!

Tony’s customer eventually bought the car, but could not take delivery for the next week. In the meantime, Tony could not wait to leave. He told me that as soon as the customer picked up their car he would give them the keys and keep on walking, so disgusted was he with the crap he had to put up with.

In the meantime, another salesman wrote down the customer’s name on a piece of paper, sideways in a notebook and brought it to Tony. “Look,” he said, showing the name written on a page in a notebook. “I talked to your customer first, so I want you to go tell the manager this and get him to give me half of the commission.” Not wanting to make any more enemies, Tony went and told the manager what the salesman had done. The manager laughed openly at him, but still refused to comply and told Tony not to give in.

This made no difference, he was then accused for the rest of the week of trying to screw the salesman out of HIS money. So Tony had to avoid this man also when standing around the same showroom floor for ten hours a day, six days a week. Every time the salesman would confront him about it, the other salesman, the one who pushed Tony around on the sidewalk, would start visibly chuckling to himself. I told Tony to watch this when it happens, for it is a sign of inside knowledge old salesman are aware of and to stand firm to get his money, for he was indeed being scammed.

Tony’s customer got his car and Tony did indeed leave with them, in fact I believe he left without his commission on the sale, but I am not sure of that. Before that however, I was privy to the paperwork Tony did on the sale and he showed me how the customer was actually paying over $6,000 dollars more over the life of the financing they received than they were even aware of.

I am not a financial person, and my understanding of this was a bit foggy, but according to Tony, there were so many hidden fees within the small print of the paperwork that they added up to about $6,000 dollars that was hidden from the customer’s immediate knowledge. I found that incredible! He showed me a hidden finance fee of 40% on window tinting which the customer didn’t know about because it was included in the whole financial numbers. I didn’t understand this, but he told me there were many other hidden things like this that the finance manager had done.

Tony warned me never to get financing from the dealer. No matter the great deal they want to give you. I knew someone who had once been the finance manager at a car dealership and I asked him about this at a later time. He giggled like a school girl at the mention of it. “Yes,” he told me. “Stuff like that happens all the time.”

Here are some other things I learned about buying a car from an auto dealership. There is such a thing as an informal warranty. When too many of the same new model of cars have shown the same mechanical problem, the manufacturer will inform the car dealerships that it will cover the cost of repairs beyond the standard warranty. These warranties, however, are never publicized. Buyers need to write to the center for auto safety to find out about these things, and discover which components of the car are likely to fail and qualify for these repair warranties. If the part is covered and the service manager won’t fix it, you’ll need to either have a factory’s regional office representative mediate the matter, or take them to small claims court. Documentation is always needed.

Keep an eye on dealerships in your area that you may think you’ll do business with in the future. Go and look around one when you are not going to buy anything. You just want a feel for the personnel, and how they operate. When they approach you, and believe me, they will after standing around all day, just tell them you are window shopping and you’ll come and get them if you need anything. If they don’t insult you right there, then that’s a good sign. But good luck on that, this is not retail, they are not there to just be helpful. Don’t let them intimidate you or engage in any random banter.

Go to the service area also and just hang out a few minutes. Notice if things are being run smoothly, if the manager there and working, are customers treated with respect. Make sure you know for sure. Look at the service lot, notice the license plate frames. In a good dealership you’ll see plates from competing dealerships.

Don’t go out on the highway for a dealership, the salesmen know they have just one chance to make a sale, they could get violent. Multi-franchise dealerships can add to the overall trauma you experience in car buying, too many people are involved and this will cause a lot of confusion.

You choose the salesperson, don’t let them choose you. Ask them about themselves, how long they have worked, where they have worked, and if you may have references from former customers. If this works and you aren’t reviled and insulted, you may have a good thing going.

Just to note, in the high pressure of a salesroom, everyone is a target even if they are in the same ethnic group as you are. I once got a message on the phone for one of two African-Americans who worked for dealership #2 and I didn’t know who anyone was at first, so I asked the only African-American on the floor if he was this man Raymond, for whom I had a message, and I was snapped at and told “NO, I am the OTHER one!” So even the brothers didn’t get along and the customers were treated with no favoritism.

Remember, they believe that you and I are stupid, and therefore deserve what we get. So educate yourself first. Get as much information as possible on the car you want before you even sit down with a salesman. Collect brochures and read magazine articles on the auto you want. Don’t let them try to fool you with their impressive knowledge of the car, as this is just a device to take control of the sale and establish authority in the transaction.

You have to be knowledgeable and strong willed, and ready to leave at any moment. Know the competition too, if you mention that you are wavering between them and the competition they will, of course, knock them and be very convincing if you are uninformed. This isn’t a friendly exchange folks, don’t be fooled. Big money is on the table when it comes to you as a customer and they are armed to the teeth with ways of getting your money.

If you don’t know what you want, you will be sold what the salesman wants to unload. The most expensive model, with the most extravagant items, and all those hidden finance charges. You will have to eventually take a test drive of the car you want in order for the salesman to get you to take mental ownership of the car, he will glowingly praise the car in the meantime and try to get you to have fun while driving - NEVER GIVE HIM YOUR KEYS. Make absolute sure you give the salesman a single copy of your auto key if they truly need it, be prepared for this. Be prepared to walk (and be insulted as you walk away) if you need to. At this point in the sale, the salesman can take on an attitude not unlike a serpent with forbidden fruit for you to try. “Go ahead, it won’t really hurt.” he’ll imply.

Don’t buy when you are tired, if you are there for any length of time, just leave. Don’t let them sit in the break room and watch TV on you. They want you to wear out and believe that you will be primed to take whatever they promise you, even if they don’t have it, under the condition of being tired. There are no such things as idle questions either, any question is a probe to get to know what they can say back to you to make the sale. If they ask you what you do for a living, tell them you drive a cargo ship from here to the planet Jupiter, and without batting an eye they will tell you they have a cousin who does that too! Avoid probing questions if you can.

Remember those hidden finance charges? Options are where the dealer makes his money. So say for instance the dealer tells you that ALL cars come with power windows. But you don’t want power windows. At this point they will tell you it has to be a special order and it could take months. Walk out at this point if he doesn’t “work something out”. They magically will, they need the sale.

Standard options are listed in the manufacturer’s brochure. Cars for the lot may be ordered without a standard option like say, carpeting. You’ll be told that it is extra if you don’t know any better, and you’ll be charged for it too. Know what you are doing people!

Turning you over is a wearing down tactic. If they feel that you are not going their way or responding in the way they want you to, they will go on a break and let another salesperson talk to you. This can happen four or five times until you actually get frustrated and either buy a car or you are told to get the f**k out. If your salesman leaves for a break, then you leave too. There is a Starbucks every five hundred feet in America. I mean it! Be tough!

When you do finally buy the car, insist on itemization of what you have been charged and look closely for incongruousness in the finance price and the final price. Many people are just too confused and tired after a day at the dealership to really watch the fine print.

Check the car over and make sure everything is working and is just like you dealt for. Sometimes a car can be dented in transit and the dealer will park the car against a wall to hide the dent. Balloons in the back seat can be fun, but they also can hide interior damages. Remember, when you drive a car off the lot, it’s YOURS, there is no return policy and you just lost about $3,000 dollars just for making it a sudden used car the moment you hit the tarmac. Really! The value drops about $3,000 dollars the moment you drive away.

Laugh at those commercials you see on TV folks, they are NOTHING close to the reality of the auto dealership’s attitude toward you. Buy a good used car and have a mechanic look it over before you buy. The value is worth the work. And don’t even get me started on leasing. Avoid it if you can.

Oh and one last thing. There are NEVER any "sales". Those Veteran's day sales and Fourth of July sales are all smokescreens. Most of the time the "sale" is bargained and dickered away. Nothing really special every happens price wise on those days, they are just advertising.

Good luck to you, I hope this helps. And to those of you who have different experiences than what I have outlined, well... lucky you. ;-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Clever Hans, Apes and Bees, and Communication Part 3

Clever Hans, Apes and Bees,
and Communication

Part 3

If you missed part 2 you’ll need to scroll down or select from the links on the side bar.

Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees

You can talk to these Monkees----->

The idea that apes have no linguistic ability is only a recent discovery compared to the overall history of the study. We now know that they are merely cleverly mirroring the human intelligence of th
eir trainers. The breakthrough came when a young chimp named Nim was trained with sign language. In the beginning it appeared that the chimp was indeed using signs in a language form, but later when video taped alone by himself, it became obvious that the chimp was merely using signs when prompted by the trainer and the signs never appeared at any other time. The chimp also never added any of its own signs to the mix or developed them beyond the original programming.

You can talk to these Animals----->

This underscored the information obtained from the ex
perience of Clever Hans. Animals have a unique ability to observe and interpret human expression, and this ability borders on the supernatural. The next time you see a stray dog and think in terms of whether or not they will “smell fear”, consider more deeply the effect that simple turns of your head or body may convey to the animal, and also even small expressions of the face. Can you convince a pit bull that you love dogs? You might need to one day. But hopefully not.

One must consider the extent of the educational advantage gorillas like “Koko” have had in learning the way that they do. When we think about over crowded classrooms for our children where there is one teacher to maybe 40 students and these apes have had teams of 30 to 40 teachers trying to teach them to use language, one can see how highly developed even a gorilla with a 40 I.Q. can become due to the ability to mirror human intelligence. Mentally retarded patients at the Georgia State Retardation Center were also given these same techniques and amount of attention, and it was noted that they were much easier to teach than the chimps.

The study of child language and the human brain has even gotten stranger in recent times. According to the website, babies who babble are actually talking backwards and from the right brain. Not only this, but we humans actually have a speech that comes from our right brains which is only picked up in the subconscious and is received in reverse. I am not sure just what to think of all the findings of Doctor John Oates, who is developing this science, but the website is an amazing trip to go through, and that is all I will say.

And There’s More....

In the beginning, back in 1661 when Samuel Prepys first encountered a baboon, the idea of apes being able to developed language grew and became an accepted avenue of investigation for many years right up until the 1960’s and 1970’s. There were, of course, many false positives that came from the studies, including exercises where chimps were taught to communicate with one another. Their success rate reached an impressive 95%. But those experiments used word symbols with a computer and when turned off, the communication rate dropped off the map. Apes have no ability to form thoughts into language but a huge ability to mirror the communications of humans, and without the humans, there is no “Dr. Zaius”.

Ahh but what about Dolphins???? Doesn’t Flipper have clout???

In the early 1960’s this idea of an animal having language was also applied to dolphins. The simple mistaken intel about dolphins having a larger brain than most was another true revelation of man’s hubris. It was believed that perhaps size mattered when it came to brains and dolphins might even be smarter than mankind. (There are many New Agers who promote that dolphins are actually evolved Atlanteans or Lemurians from long ago in the Earth’s history.) There is no dolphin mystique, plain and simple. Dolphins speak to each other in the same way all animals do.

Due to apes being believed to be intelligent and capable of language, one has to wonder why they were never taught to clean their own cages. No apes have ever cleaned up after themselves, or even have been taught to do so, they are after all... animals. Animals only work, prepare food and clean up after themselves when they are directed to do so by humans. This is undeniable. Humans are able to force animals to work due to their God given dominion over the planet, and man's ability to retain and transmit information over time. One would think that this ability would have made a greater difference over the history of mankind, with respect to man’s basic internal self. We have trains, planes and automobiles, internets and space shuttles and more medical advancements than at any time in history, but man is basically the same as he has always been. The fact that animals who act like humans, because they do what they see humans doing, can be mistakenly given powers of intelligent language production, is further proof of an age old hubris that has blinded mankind for his entire history.

Animals are incapable of creating day dreams and imaginations. Humans alone have the ability to learn and understand information relegated to him from the past. We can certainly understand the story of Christ and also make a decision based upon the information gained within that story, despite the fact that we have never been to that point in time. Animals have no idea what any of that means, and that makes us superior to the animal. Mankind alone has the capacity for the “Word”.

Word Up

Why should man alone, among all known life forms, be the only one that can disseminate information from the past and then transmit that information into the future? There is an absolute disunion between ourselves and everything else on the planet. Your house cat is happy their entire life just being a cat. Your trees in the backyard never gain the desire to travel to the south of France. If man were not around, had never been around, the earth would indeed look like a different place today. Nature would own everything, there would never been imbalance, even death would just be part of the circle of life. And yet the earth is vastly different because of mankind’s presence. If he were just an example of evolution, then that balance would be maintained, nature would have it no other way. But man is made in the image of his Superior Creator, and nothing else is.

Is there any evidence that relates the distinctive attribute of mankind with the word and the creation of human beings? Mankind alone has a unique strand of DNA with a particular string of nucleotide bases which allows a unique informational specification. The language cortex in the left hemisphere of the brain from whence speech comes is a direct difference of mankind in relation to the rest of creation.

Humans also assign meanings to verbal utterances. This depends not only on the words used but also on the state of mind and knowledge of those using language. It has been discovered that at birth the human child has an innate ability to understand the spoken word. This ability is genetically traceable to the informational specification along the DNA strand which echoes human life which, therefore, came into existence at the time human life was created.

If the divine attribute of man’s creator is “The Word”, then the human capacity to perpetuate a moral code through time itself, from the past long ago and then into present day and then beyond, is itself an overlaying shadow of the moral image overlaying all generations of human life. Man is life’s singular moral species with access to an eternity. The “passport” is a message that only mankind can receive. Our ability to choose whom we shall believe among all information received is our solitary ability and responsibility that neither ape, horse, bee or dolphin can make.

Terrace H. et. al. “On the Grammatical Capacity of Apes” in Nelson K. ed. Children’s Language (1980) v.2 Gardner Press (NY)
Chevalier-Skolnikoff S. “The Clever Hans Phenomenon, Cuing and Ape Signing: A Piagetian Analysis of Methods for Instructing Animals.” Annals of the New York Academy of Science
Gardner B. & Gardner R. “Comparing the Early Utterances of Child and Chimpanzee.” On Child Psychology (1974)
Gish S. Quantitative Analysis of Two Way Communication Between Captive Dolphins (1979)
Romans 9:16

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Clever Hans, Apes and Bees, and Communication Part 2

Clever Hans,
Apes and Bees,
and Communication

Part 2

If you missed part 1 you’ll need to scroll down or select from the links on the side bar.

Damn Dirty Apes

What really happens if animals DO learn some sort of language? In this case it means that human intelligence has succeeded in releasing animals from instincts they received at birth. This of course also leads to the possibility that animals could eventually learn to use this language to communicate with one another. If enough time is allowed, it is not hard to imagine that animals could indeed begin to resemble humans in the way that they communicate. Then, after this fact, the animals could begin to inform us of how their present state of affairs is the result of “adverse” evolutionary circumstances. If conversation then became common, laws against discrimination and in favor of equal opportunity could then be developed to protect animals from environmental factors that victimize them into a disadvantaged position relative to human beings.

They’d acquire rights.

Despite the fact that humans differ on many levels from animals, it would be easy for people to be blind to the fact that a division between man and animal was God given. Many seem to feel that except for human culture and education, it’s man’s mind that is indeed not so different from the apes, not the other way around. If indeed an ape was exposed to human culture, would the natural progression be an ape that has acquired human qualities? This kind of reminds me a little bit of “King Louie” from the Disney movie “The Jungle Book”. Interestingly enough Louie’s complaint was that he didn’t know the secret to fire; fire being a kind of power in this instance, and that does indeed sound like a human trait. But that’s NOT science, people.

The factual content on this matter is hugely diverse from what would be popular culture and wishful thinking. I seriously doubt that any orangutan in any zoo sits around all day imagining any other relationship between man and ape than the one he enjoys everyday. Imagination often leads to invention, and we’ve seen no inventions from the ape species - ever! If there is any difference between the two minds, that of man and that of ape, then it is by human choice and not by necessity. Science today will tell you that there is no common ground between ape and man that can be bridged naturally. Monkeys haven’t changed in all the time of their existence and yet mankind has landed on the moon in the same period of time. The belief that special circumstances produced a difference that can now be overcome with special engineering is to invent happenings of the past that are in fact unknown, and still unexplained and also beg to be accurately reproduced as only the superior mind of man can accommodate. This special circumstances belief is also a direct contradiction of the current evidence on the subject.

Primordial Snooze

Up until the 1980’s it was believed that apes could indeed be taught a language eventually. Many experiments had been done before this time with apes as varied as Austin, Sherman and Lana. They were taught to label different foods and tools. The fourteen year old chimp, Sarah, was said to be able to congnitize specific problems and even think her way into a solution. There were also six wild born chimpanzees that were said to prove an affinity for spatial memory organization. Paper marking tests were devised three years after “social conditions” were believed to determine the rates at which the chimps approached “hidden distant goals”. Language between chimps and children was at this time believed to be comparable.

How new indeed is the idea that animals can acquire language? It’s actually a very old concept. In 1661 Samuel Pepys wrote that it was his opinion that apes could indeed be taught a language. He devised this information from his first time encounter with a baboon. In 1885, Sir John Lubbock wrote that rather than trying to teach animals our ideas, it might be a better idea to produce a code of signals that allow the animal to impart his ideas to us. Twenty years later, and influenced by the academic antics of a horse named Clever Hans, a psychiatrist revealed that animals can think in human ways. They can also express ideas in human language.*

* Lubbock J. Note on the intelligence of the dog (1885) British association for the advancement of science.
Prepys S. in Marx J. (1980) op. cit.
Wolff G. Die denkenden Tiere von Elberfield und mannheim :456 (1914) Suddeutsche Monatshefete, Berlin

Just the Facts Mam’

Due to the fact that science is all about observable data, and any data that is not observable is something else entirely, and not science, the only facts we can truly devise from all this is that animals consistently prove that they are indeed organic machines energized by instincts. In the absence of human intelligence, animal behavior expresses itself under a dictatorial genetic system that imposes common controls from generation to generation. This is why the language experiments required training so structured as to be logically equivalent to teaching a child to swing through trees while supporting him with cables, harnesses and nets. The idea of training animals to complete tasks for rewards is not all that new at all. This has been successfully done with pigeons and even worms. This does not however lead to any kind of language use. All sign behavior can indeed be so mechanistic that it can be duplicated on a computer.

The language of the chimp, Lana, is attributable to only two basic processes called paired associate learning and conditional discrimination learning. Therefore as a practical matter, a computer can be programmed to simulate the alleged language of the chimp. This in turn reveals the mechanistic behavior of the animals themselves. Animals never act illogically against their programming unless mankind sticks his nose in the mix. (Of course, I speak of healthy animals.) Any animal rights person will inform you that elephants never sway back and forth while they stand in one spot, and yet you can witness this in any zoo in America. This “swaying” is actually a mental/emotional problem brought on by captivity.

A Horse is a Horse is a Horse of course

All of this brings up a very good question: Why are there so many highly intelligent people who believe that apes have the ability to use signs in a way that is characteristic of true language? How were these folks influenced into believing that animals can do things they really can’t do? This is mostly due to an ability that animals DO have. Believe it or not, apes have actually fooled human beings, really smart human beings, too. Although, the apes are not actually cognizant of their ability to do so. But there is a trotting horse called Clever Hans who can illustrate this idea for us.

Clever Hans couldn’t speak like the Mr. Ed of TV fame, but his owner was so captivated by his seeming intelligence that he went so far as to give the horse the benefit of a high school education. People came from all over the land to see the horse perform his amazing intelligence “tricks”. Clever Hans could solve very complex mathematical problems, and this astounded audiences. He could also solve non-math problems as well.

When given a math problem, Hans would paw the ground with his hoof. Yes and no answers were solved with a shake of the head left and right or else up and down. (yes and no). He could also name colors. If asked to find the color red, he would pick up a red rag, or a green rag for green and so on. Many people of the day investigated the horse; the owner, the people who had seen the horse perform. No one could discover the source of the intelligence that the horse displayed, this included Calvary men, psychologists and well known scholars.

One day however, after years of amazing feats by the horse, a person asked a question of the horse whose answer was unknown by the questioner or anyone physically close to the horse. Suddenly Hans was an idiot. Not only did he not know the answer, but it became alarmingly obvious that he had never known any answer to any question ever given to him.

Years of constant familiarity between the horse and his teacher enabled the horse to pick up the slightest signs and movements of the trainer’s head and body. At each demonstration, when asked a question, the horse was able to view, with his “jungle” eyesight and wider visual scope, the slightest unconscious movements of his trainer’s body. The trainer knew which rag was red and would naturally face the red rag in some small way either with his eyes or his head or his body, and therefore the horse would then grab a red rag. If asked a math question, the trainer would lean slightly forward while the horse pawed the ground and then when the correct number had been reached, the trainer would relax. All this happened imperceptibly to the humans in the surrounding viewpoint. But animals see these things. (In much the same way as a cat or dog knows a human who likes or dislikes a cat or dog.) Likewise with head movements, the horse might see the trainer blink, or move his head slightly, perhaps even a raising of the chin, and this would tip off the horse to answer in a pre-trained way to either a yes or no question.

Animals see things you and I do not, and it has been discovered that head movements can be perceived at well under a hundredth of an inch. Without the seeming superior intelligence of mankind, animals have been given an almost superpower advantage that man knows only a little about. The interpretation of this gift in human terms has lead many to believe that similarities between man and animal are only a bridge that needs to be gulfed, but in essence, they possess something quite different than what we assume they must have.

Cats and Dogs, cats and dogs. I was just thinking about dinner tonight.

About this time, as you can imagine, pet owners everywhere were revealing their special family members as being oracles of wisdom. In the next thirty years after Hans, there were as many as 70 pet owners who appeared on the popular circuit hoping for a chance at stardom with “Arnold” the pig and such. The problem behind each of those animals was the ubiquitous presence of its master. Without Jimmyjo Bob or Peggy Sue, Arnold knew nothing. This was something new, the connection between masters and their pets, and science moved forward to study this effect with the removal of the human element involved. An animal’s ability to recognize and interpret a human’s smallest movements due to its ultra sensitive and unseen perception fueled the so called discoveries of language possibilities that were then reported. Animals know their trainers and owners and also their expectations. They then combine this with their superior sensory organization and history is made.

But what happens when we pull the human element out of the equation?

More on this in Part 3.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Abducted to Kill

Abducted to Kill

by Pola Muzyka

A young man struggles to guard and sustain his love for God, his fiancée, and his family when faced with the brutality of Sharia law.

Abducted into the newly formed Hezbollah army, a young American Christian fights for his life, his freedom, and the woman he loves when he defies a brutal regime during one of the most difficult times in Middle East history.

Friends begin to go missing and rumors surface. Some of Joseph’s friends are never heard from again. How and why they disappear remains a mystery. Joseph becomes entrapped in the mystery of the disappearances when, one day after work, he and his friend are forcibly thrown into the backseat of a black Nissan.

He and his friend are forced to join a ruthless militia. This military, formed by the IRG to protect Lebanon from invasion by the Israelis, contradicts its credence. Joseph witnesses the most horrific sins that man can inflict upon another human being and he wants out. He thinks his Maker has abandoned him and he questions God’s very existence, ultimately doubting his own faith.

After grueling years of enduring this military life, escape and concealment, a way opens up for him to safely flee the country and eventually return to the U.S.

Recently, I sat in a room with quite a few hispanic-americans who had come from various countries and towns down below the border of the U.S. and Mexico. This is not surprising seeing as the proximity of Los Angeles to South America brings about these sorts of situations everyday for those who live here. Some of those folks are legal and some are not, and this is only a fact of little importance, but it does carry some weight in this current situation.

In this room was a rather large television which was showing an Hispanic news channel. The news report being broadcast was about some drug traffickers who had been stopped from crossing the border with a large amount of illegal drugs that they had purposed specifically for selling to those who have been captured by the addiction of such items as cocaine, heroine, et al.

These men had been in a gun battle with U.S. Narcotics officers and they were all lying around the street, sitting in their cars, and hanging out of the doors due to being shot multiple times. It was a grisly scene in my estimation. The sight of seeing human beings, even drug traffickers who mean to make money from other people’s suffering, being photographed and carded with evidence numbers, was a bit much to witness. And the casualness with which it was presented was not lost on me.

Of course, here in America, on our news channels, these sorts of scenes are given only a few seconds of coverage if they are reported on and shown to the public at all. The sad truth is that most of what goes on in the world comes to the American public with a dose of sugar coating. Those who come to America from war torn states often bring their experience and attitudes from those countries to America’s shores, and for them this is a natural way of life. Godless, yes, but seemingly just the way things are for them. Such scenes for those sitting in the TV room watching the news were common knowledge to those present.

In her book, Abducted to Kill, Pola Muzyka successfully displays common tragedy of something that does indeed happen in the world; the death, the destruction, especially of human lives, and also the assumed right that evil takes in performing atrocities upon mankind all in the name of fanaticism. What she also does is balance said condition with the heart of mankind that forges ever forward. It is curious isn’t it, that no matter who those “other people over there” are, they all have a mother and father. They all have sisters and brothers. They all have a heart that needs to be loved and a life that needs to be vilified. It never fails to amaze me how mankind can be both the most dangerous thing on the planet and yet the most beneficial.

What Ms. Muzyka has done here is taken a main character, one Joseph Rabbani, and given the reader his story in alternating scenes back and forth from his current condition and then into his back story, as she renders the common life of a young man suddenly turned hazardous, and yet sadly, as the world will tell you, not all that uncommon. The story itself is character oriented and brings out a great deal of minute details in giving the reader a realistic rendering of both the persons involved and also their sometimes frightening surroundings. Surroundings based on Ms. Muzyka’s research and some actual events.

It would be difficult to relay to you many of the points made in this story about what is happening in the middle east, especially as per the Hezbollah army, but let me just say that some of the points revealed, if they are to be taken literally, will make you think more about some of the social issues and public changes that are, and have been happening, right here in America, for some time.

In the rear of her book, Ms. Muzyka has a few references that will perhaps give you a better perspective of the issues covered in the story, and although the story is fictional, these items are cause for great concern in a world which is supposed to be claiming progress from anachronistic ideology.

Culture of Death - Islam’s focus on the afterlife is meant to encourage Muslims to live pious lives. But that isn’t what Muslims are learning. Thomas L. Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New York Times columnist, recently wrote about a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia in which gunmen ruthlessly attacked a housing complex and specifically sought out “infidels” and Westerners to kill. He asked where such intolerance was learned, and he answered: “The Saudi Public School system and religious curriculum.”

Adultery - Penalty Code Article 104 is specific about the type of stones that should be used when a woman is to be punished for adultery. They “should not be large enough to kill the woman by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones. She is to die a slow death.

There are quite few disturbing other points which she has gleaned from her research, but these two should at least give you the understanding of the kinds of subjects that are covered in a fictional story that will have you wondering just what is going on with the Earth these days. Truly such events as 9/11 are the results of culture wars as well as terrorism.

Joseph is taken from his protective, loving family, from which he has grown up Christian in America, while he is currently in a new living local in Iran where his father’s business takes him and his family. The cold hard realities of such an abduction are well laid out in the story as Joseph struggles to keep the humanity within himself which he has always known, which he grew up with and considers his very true person. In much the same way as the main character of the recent movie “Brothers”, Joseph is cornered into violating himself and his own deep convictions of what he knows to be the good and human thing to do. In the interim, his family too, is effected and also the love of his life is deemed brutally lost by those who oppose her Christian beliefs.

It’s a tightly written story that will keep you reading a you follow Joseph’s story of a life lost, namely his own, to the militant powers that surround him, as easily as they could surround you or me. For many people all around the world, that kind of life is indeed what they see all too often. Ms. Muzyka isn’t taking the core of the story easy on the reader, for she could have easily placed the meat of the story in a science fiction setting and given us aliens and far away planets as a buffer from stark realities that happen all around the world every day. But she hasn’t done that. Joseph and his family and friends are people just like anyone else, be they American, Chinese, Indian, or in this case Middle Eastern. If today you feel somewhat distanced from terror and the horrors it brings to the innocent, who of course are always the first victims in war, then perhaps you would take from this story a lesson about the encroachment of militant fanaticism, even in your own town.

A well written, and voluminous book that has been given painstaking detail, especially in the way it brings distant fleeting images of news footage from the other side of the world, which one may not give too much thought to, and injects them with the all too missed perception of tragic humanity that is involved.

Pola Muzyka is an accomplished award-winning TV, commercial and corporate writer. She has always had a flair for dramatic writing. In the 1980’S, She wrote part of a script for film director Federico Fellini. She researched and translated work for four-time Academy Award-winner Danilo Donati, who deemed her work “the most extensive research ever done on a film.” Escape the Hezbollah is her debut as a novelist and combines her talent as researcher and dramatic writer in this powerful and gripping story.

Pola is a multi-disciplinarian who began her career as a dramatic actress, having done both starring and feature roles in Hollywood-based motion pictures. She has showcased her visual art in many galleries and currently hosts a television series for baby boomers.

Although she has traveled and lived all over the world, Pola was raised on a sheep farm and continues to enjoy country living. Her passion lies in her relationship with Jesus Christ and her ministry connecting Christians in media. She is the founder of the internet based, Christian Media Alliance. Subsequently, she has toured India as a media missionary and produced documentary films helping pastors in various countries.

The title of this book has been changed.

Escape The Hezbollah