Monday, May 31, 2010

31 May 2010 Memorial Day, reason forgotten

31 May 2010 Memorial Day, reason forgotten

This Memorial Day, honoring a military that's in isolation

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

Monday, May 31, 2010

“The largest contrast in the social impact of war is between our time and the World War II era. In his superb book about the home front, "Days of Sadness, Years of Triumph," historian Geoffrey Perrett argues that the Second World War produced "the closest thing to a real social revolution" that the country experienced in the 20th century.

That war sharply reduced "barriers to social and economic equality which had stood for decades." It was a time when "a genuine middle-class nation came into existence"; when "access to higher education became genuinely democratic for the first time"; when "the modern civil rights movement began"; and when "the only basic redistribution of national income in American history occurred."

World War II and those who fought it were widely remembered because the conflict itself as well as its vast side effects insinuated themselves into everyone's lives. The Civil War was etched in our memory for the same reason: It was the 19th century's great social revolution. “

Dionne’s column presents a view of the military not often recognized. It’s worth reading.

The loss of the shared experience of national service, particularly military service, makes it all too easy to forget the reason for the holiday. The middle class, boosted by WWII service, opted out of military service in VietNam, and in doing so lost contact with those who serve. I’ve heard, all too many times, that the armed forces are for the poor and illiterate. That the all volunteer army is made up of the lower economic strata of our nation is relatively true. That is made up of illiterates is no more true than any cross section of our populace in that age range. Literacy is declining independently of economic status.

I’ve made my comments about a holiday that ignores the reason for the holiday. It’s nice to see someone else take up the banner and wave it.

To my comrades –in-arms, from then to now, safe return.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

30 May 2010 OK to fight alongside; but not to be buried alongside

30 May 2010 OK to fight alongside; but not to be buried alongside

To this day there are millions of Americans who maintain that the civil war was not about racism. To this day there is the misconception that Americans of Jewish faith owe their first allegiance to Israel and have only secondary loyalty to America.

In truth, no immigrants have ever been more undividedly loyal to the U.S. than those Jews who left Europe to live and work here. For Jews, the Old World was one of ghettos, persecutions, pogroms, the inquisition, and institutional anti-Semitism. Pogroms and other acts of violence against Jews were condoned by governments and churches. Jews were often the first targets of Crusaders marching across Europe to the Mid East.

There was no loyalty to the old nations they left, only a sense of loss for families left behind. Every Jewish family that made it here worked to bring over other family members. Traditional foods, songs, dances, languages all survive, even today. But there is no great longing for the “old world.”

How sad it is that Jewish soldiers who fought and died for the Confederacy were considered unsuitable to be buried in Confederate military cemeteries.

Cemetery for Hebrew Confederate Soldiers

The Hebrew Confederate cemetery on Shockoe Hill in Richmond, Virginia, is the only Jewish military cemetery in the world outside the state of Israel. The cemetery is maintained by Congregation Beth Ahabah.







[List of names--see below]






M. Levy, Mississippi, killed May 31, 1862.

J. Rosenberg, Ga.

Henry Adler, 46th Va.

E.J. Sampson, 4th Texas, killed June 27th, 1862.

G. Wolfe, N.C.

I. Hessberg, Caroline co.

Unknown soldier

Henry Gersberg, Salem, Va., killed June 2, 1864.

T. Foltz, 16th Miss.

I. Cohen, Hampton (S.C.) Legion.

Sam Bear, Ga.

S. Bachrach, Lynchburg, Va.

Jonathan Sheuer, La.

J. Frank, Ga.

Henry Cohen, S.C. killed June 29, 1864.

Capt. Jacob A. Cohen, Co. A, 10th La., killed at 2nd Manassas, August 30, 1862, age, 33 years.

M. Aaron, N.C.

A. Lehman, S.C.

Julius Zark, 7th Louisiana.

A. Heyman, Georgia.

Lieut. W.M. Wolf, Hagood's S.C. Brigade, died May 9, 1864.

Lieut. L.S. Lipman, 5th Louisiana, died May 9, 1863.

Erected by his brothers to the memory of Isaac Seldner, of the 6th Virg. Inf. Reg., born December 23, 1837, killed at the battle of Chancellorsville, Va., May 3rd, 1863. None knew him but to love him.

S. Weiss, Ga.

H. Jacobs, S.C.

E.B. Miller, died April 6, 1864.

Corpl. G. Eiseman, 12th Miss.

M. Bachrach, Lynchburg, Va.

S. Oury, 16th Miss.; died June 10, 1861.

A. Robinson, 15th Ga., died Jan. 26, 1863.

Soldiers killed in battle and buried elsewhere in the cemetery are Gustavus Kann, 16th Mississippi; Henry Smith, Richmond, Otey Battery; Marx Myers, Richmond Grays;

Isaac J. Levy, Richmond Blues, and Captain M. Marcus, 15th Georgia, killed October 13, 1864.

The Only Jewish Military

Cemetery Outside of Israel is in Richmond, Virginia

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

The Hebrew Confederate Cemetery, located in Richmond, Virginia, is the only Jewish military cemetery in the world outside of Israel. It was created by the anti-Semitism of the two Confederate military cemeteries, in Spotsylvania Court House and Fredericksburg. They refused to bury the Jewish Confederate soldiers killed in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Wilderness. They didn’t want “Jewish boys” in their cemeteries.

They brought them to the Hebrew Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. They were buried in five rows, with six bodies in a row, in a self -contained hallowed area within the larger Hebrew Cemetery. Those buried came from Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana.

In 1866, The Hebrew Ladies Memorial Association was formed to take care these graves. They raised money to pay for individual gave markers for the soldiers, they sponsored memorial services and they commissioned an elaborate ornamental iron fence to surround the hallowed grave area. In the 1930s, they gave the care of this area to the Hebrew Cemetery Company.

Major William B. Meyer designed an iron railing fence that enclosed the thirty graves. This fence is considered a work of art.

The posts of the fence are furled Confederate flags with stacked muskets, with a flat Confederate soldier's cap on top of it. The railings between the posts are crossed swords and sabers hung with wreaths of laurel. The design is emblematic of the three branches of the Confederate fighting forces: muskets for the infantry and the swords and sabers for the artillery and cavalry.

In the 1930s, the tombstones were removed because of their deterioration and worn away engraving. They replaced them with a large granite stone with a bronze plaque attached with the names of all the soldiers buried. It was erected by Congregation Beth Ahabah, the caretakers of the cemetery

When Henry Gintzberger was killed in the Battle of Cold Harbor, he was misidentified and buried under the name of Gersberg. A hundred years later, local historians trying to locate his grave, found it in the Hebrew Confederate Cemetery. On October 20, 1963, a special memorial program was held at the cemetery and his birth name was restored with a plaque attached underneath the other one.

Many of the local Jewish Confederate soldiers killed are not in this military cemetery as they were buried in their family plots at the Hebrew Cemetery. One of these soldiers was Isaac Levy of Richmond, Virginia.

He was 21 years old when he was killed in the trenches near Petersburg on August 21, 1864. He was an orthodox Jew, who wrote his sister that he and other Jewish Confederate soldiers managed to have a Passover Seder with Kosher food.

T.N. Waul, who commanded a Confederate Legion said, “Jewish soldiers were brave, orderly, well–disciplined and in no respect inferior to the gallant body in which they formed a prominent part. Their behavior in the field was exemplary and no Jew was ever before a court-martial. I never heard of any Jewish soldier shirking or failing to answer any call of duty and danger.”

In the Civil War, Jews responded to the call of duty whether it was for the North or the South. The Confederate Hebrew Cemetery depicts the great sacrifices that Jews have made in defending their country.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

29 May 2010 six pallbearers and one to count cadence

29 May 2010 six pallbearers and one to count cadence

The images of troops putting flags at every grave stone in the Arlington National Cemetery is always a cause for introspection. The dead lie in orderly rows, no longer required to fight for anyone. The national flags gather all of them without concern for religion, race, or ethnicity, into one common fold. They all wore the nation’s uniform, put their lives, even if only briefly, in abeyance to serve the nation. Some won medals for bravery, some committed equally selfless and self-endangering acts without recognition. All deserve accolades and honor.

The pool company called this morning to announce they were enroute to open the pool. This occasioned extra effort early in the morning. Gloria attacked the wisteria that annually tries to take over the pool deck. That’s a never-ending chore. I hauled all the equipment for the summer out from and hauled all the winter gear back to storage. This year we will need a new solar blanket which we will install in a different manner than the last. Once the pool clears, several days from now, we’ll install the new blanket and cut it to size. We won’t turn the heater on until the solar blanket has worked its magic.

I fail to understand why the previous owners didn’t put a cage around this pool. On the other hand, not having a cage does provide information as to what insects are resident. I recall dragon flies trying to mate with a dragon fly pin I tied for Gloria’s cap. I guess that complements my tying skills but says little for the insects’ mating skills.

Friday, May 28, 2010

28 May 2010 headlamps, flashlights, thunderstorms

28 May 2010 headlamps, flashlights, thunderstorms

About 2100 yesterday the thunderstorms that had been threatening all day started rolling in. They came over the mountains out of N. Carolina rather than from the west as they usually do here. There has been a lot of thermal lifting along the eastern divide and the result was powerfully evident.

We sat and watched the storms progress on radar; blowing up, anviling out, dying back as new storm foci took their place. When the power started flickering we began to power the computers down. We lost power before we could complete the process. Fortunately both systems are UPS/surge protectors so there was sufficient battery to shut things down carefully and properly. The fascination with the storm progressions and the opportunity to look at radar views the public doesn’t normally see tend to overcome my usual reluctance to allow any chance of power flux to endanger the computers. I do have backups done on routine basis of all the documents and data I consider critical.

When the power went Gloria already had her flashlight. I was about ten steps from my good one. I have a headlamp but it is beginning to fail due to age and use. Gloria’s headlamp, from the old hurricane kit was an AAA cell incandescent bulb rig that she thought at the time to be adequate. She changed her mind last night as we sat in the living room reading by headlamp.

We went into town to the library today. The first stop along the way was at a local outdoor outfitter store to buy her a decent headlamp. She is now the proud owner of a Petzl Tikka Plus. We would have bought her an XP-2 but they were out of stock. This will be a thousand % improvement over her previous lamp.  We're all set for Scrabble in the dark!

The hike with Mike today was hot and muggy. Clouds were already building in to bring more thunderstorms. We spent most of the hike discussing flashlights and other gear that we both use. There is no such thing as having too many flashlights, particularly living where we do.

We left home at 1215 and escaped any rain until we were having lunch. Then the skies opened and we dealt with rain during the rest of our in-town errands. By the time we started home the line of storms had rolled through. I can’t say whether or not we’ll see a repeat of last night. We had 0.46 inches of rain last night in 90 minutes followed by 1hour 50 minutes of no power. Today, as of 1800 we have had 0.33 inches of rain.

Blackened grouper for lunch, pulled pork for Gloria. We had a coupon for a restaurant we’ve never tried before. It saved us half the price of lunch.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

27 May 2010 No one wants to look at you or your daughter.

27 May 2010 No one wants to look at you or your daughter.

From “The Plum Line, Greg Sargent Washington Post

“Posted at 10:25 AM ET, 05/27/2010

Maybe Palin doesn't mind being 'stalked' by McGinniss

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Sarah Palin is not genuinely all that upset about journalist Joe McGinniss moving in next door to "stalk" her. I'd say it's likely she sees a clear upside: It gives her grist for exactly the narrative she's trying to spin.

Here, via Ben Smith, is Palin's latest response to McGinniss: She's built a fence between their two houses, and either she or her allies in the media are aggressively publicizing it:

I'm not going to apologize for what McGinniss is doing -- it's unorthodox, to say the least -- but come on now. This plays into exactly the storyline she's been spinning to the Palin Nation hordes for months: Persecuted, aggrieved, real American mom just tryin' to protect her kids from pointy-headed, elitist lamestream media peeping Toms.

Anyone who plays along with her aggrievement is delusional or a chump.”

Working from the protection of Face book, surrounded by thousands of deluded followers, Palin, the resignator, has leveled yet another claim that someone is stalking her daughter for perverse reasons. This is essentially the same charge she aimed at David Letterman, who launched a tasteless and unfunny joke at the Palin family. Somehow, the decision by an author researching a book on Palin to move next door to the Palin home is immediately about having illegal and immoral designs on the Palin children.

The charge is based upon the pretense that the rented property allows the author to see a daughter’s bedroom window, a garden, and a swimming hole. These supposed vantage points were apparently of no concern during the three years when the property was a half-way house, an Oxford House; home to recovering drug addicts released from prison.

I would suspect that at some time during those three years one or more of the occupants felt inclined to ogle the Palin children. Pedophilia is not restricted in distribution to populations of comedians, authors, or others who anger Palin by word or deed.

I disapprove of involving candidates’ children in political affairs, advertising, and campaigns. The press has usually gone along with requests by presidential candidates to lay off their kids. The Kennedy kids were good press and were treated kindly. LBJ’s daughters took some heat that should really have been directed at the war. Nixon’s daughter, Ford’s offspring, Carter’s daughter, Reagan’s children, and Clinton’s daughter all were allowed the relative freedom to avoid being dragged into the political battles. They showed up in weddings, in public feuds with their parents if adults with their own lives, and on vacations when the whole family gathered. Other than in 1960 they were not campaign prop material.

Palin chose to change that. When nominated for VP she dragged her entire litter onto the stage to demonstrate he motherhood. Her children instantly became campaign props through no fault of their own and by no design of the working press. It is difficult to ignore a pregnant, unmarried daughter’s presence, apparent proof of Palin’s opposition to sex-ed and birth control education; and impossible to ignore the “fiancé” who had no desire to marry anyone or become a father until shoved into a suit and then onto the stage.. It was difficult to ignore the infant that was trotted out to demonstrate her anti-abortion position or the daughter paraded on stage to hold the infant when the daughter should have been in school – a demonstration, one guesses, of Palin’s appreciation for education and literacy.

Gloria actually visited Palin’s FB page this morning. It consisted of rants, accusations, lies, distortions, paranoid and narcissist statements. In fact, if one factors out the lies, distortions, paranoia and narcissism; it is not unlike thousands of other FB pages; including the material I post in this blog. The scary difference is the number of sycophants, worshipers, true-believers, and camp followers, fully deluded, equally paranoid, equally lacking in intellect, and willing to support her blindly who post in support of every rabid utterance she puts up. I have not a single sycophant, no true-believers, and am sure that anyone who reads what I write is at least familiar with the English language and willing to call me on any misuse of it I might commit. They should.

But no one is allowed to correct the resignator. Like every other homecoming queen, her word is law and all the people who can’t stand not being in the clique are ready to instantly roll over, belly-up, for her approval. So it is that comments leveled at her are ignored, because everyone must love her; and redirected to her children in order that the true-believers can see them and utter the necessary agreement.

She’s worried about pedophiles seeing her daughter? Simply prevented, keep her out of the public eye, send her to school. I wonder why the appropriate agency responsible for child welfare and protection in Alaska has not questioned why the Palin daughters miss so much school. That might be worth investigating. In the time since she was elected governor of Alaska she has demonstrated so much integrity and morality to her children. Charging the state of Alaska for inappropriate travel and hotels, misuse of power, using a private account to conduct state business, bilking the GOP out of clothing for the family, and, of course, repeated attempts to incite violence, spreading lies about other candidates, and quitting her job when it got to be too much bother. She’s such an excellent role model as a mother and woman.

She’s getting old and she’s not aging well. The Tammy Baker makeup doesn’t help, the hair replacement/overlay can’t be concealed, and the beauty pageant winking and simpering is enough to cause functional impotence when combined with the rest of the physical totality. She can’t help aging. But she needs to look into a mirror that can’t lie. She is far from the “fairest in the land,” and getting more distant with every passing day. Hot? Not at all. But leave her out in the sun for long and the makeup will melt off in layers. That’s what she’s afraid of someone seeing, that’s why the new fence went up, Pedophilia? Hardly, more like necrophilia.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

26 May 2010 Sarah Palin scarecrow in a tiara

26 May 2010 Sarah Palin scarecrow in a tiara

Sarah Palin's fact-free commentary on Paul and BP

By Ruth Marcus

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

“Has Sarah Palin learned anything since she was plucked from obscurity almost two years ago? Not that I can tell

It was not Palin's fault that she was woefully unprepared to be the Republican vice presidential nominee. For that one, blame the petulant, impetuous John McCain.

But Palin has had ample time now, outside the crash course of a presidential campaign, to develop and exhibit some understanding of the issues. Her learning curve, from all the available evidence, is a flat line.

Three unattractive Palin traits have, if anything, been amplified since the election: her unwillingness to buckle down and do the necessary preparation; her tendency to adopt what McCain adviser Steve Schmidt described as a "down is up and up is down" version of reality; and her enhanced sense of injury at the hands of what she oh so cleverly refers to as the "lamestream media."

Marcus does a good job of nailing Palin to the wall in her column. She quickly fixes the source of the problem and the nature of the problem. She’s right on target. Palin has never changed her behavior from her high school days. Her public career has been a chain of back-biting, treachery, lies, unethical practices, using friends, abusing friendships, and coasting on her physical appearance and her willingness to use that appearance. She’s the perennial home-coming queen candidate promising little and delivering even less.

I guess, for many people who stopped thinking and learning before entering high school, her appearance and willingness to parrot the words and thoughts of others endlessly is sufficient. It’s not for me.

I hear the echoes as incomprehensible strings of proto-language bounce around the empty space that should contain a brain. I think of the immense number of unwanted pregnancies that will result if her heartless, and brainless, approach to birth control and sex education become the law of the land again. One would think that her own experience at becoming pregnant before becoming married would cause her to think the cause and relationship through instead of trying to enforce ignorance and abstinence upon the world. But apparently, she can’t quite make that connection. Like the language circuits, the logic and reality circuits are missing and presumed dead.

Like untold thousands, who continue to return to the “home-coming” experience, to reconnect with people who they never connected with initially, Palin’s supporters flock to the myth. I truly have not seen her high school academic records. I don’t need to. She obviously had no interest in education then and has never seen reason to reverse that. She obviously had a mob of drooling boys willing to dance to her tune and a snakes’ nest of retainers and toadies willing to crown her as long as she exhibited sufficient pulchritude and social dominance.

Today she has a much larger following, comprised of almost exactly the same unlearned, unthinking, sycophants. I’ve seen endless internet proclamations of her “hotness,” her “common sense,” her opposition to corruption, her motherhood, create your own list.

She’s approaching 50, her hair falls out under stress, she has no common sense, no ethical platform, and motherhood is a physical mistake, not sanctification. Take away her makeup, her foundation garments, and let the tea baggers see he as she actually is, and that home-coming queen façade will vanish for all but the most gullible.

The working press, that is anything not slaved to Fox News, needs to begin insisting Palin submit to interviews. No working media should mention or print her name until she agrees to a real interview by real journalists, with real questions not previously submitted. The press has enough power to do it if they want to. Sure, it will anger the Tea baggers. That’s a good thing too. They’ll start spouting out the things they’ve been hiding so far, the ugly racism, religious fundamentalism and desire for a national religion that they’ve been suppressing so far.

Just as people sometimes say more than they should at home-coming, the tea baggers, theocrats, and Palin may spill all sorts of stupidity if they’re angered just a bit more by the people who can actually read their high school diplomas insisting the press do its job.

I’ve never gone to any of my high school reunions. There’s no need. I knew enough about the people who return before high school was over. I never voted for any of them then and certainly have no intention of voting for any of them now.

Marcus is all too correct. It’s time the real press start functioning as it should. They need to think about returning to their own past, and trying to remember those journalists who first inspired them to start publishing the truth.

Perhaps the media should host a homecoming for its people, to remind them that they can still follow in the paths blazed by Pulitzer, Cronkite, Murrow, Ivins, and others who were too proud and too honest to settle for electing or being led by a scarecrow in a tiara.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

25 May 2010 High and left

25 May 2010 High and left

Today was spent completing an NRA basic handgun course. Much of it included material I had already studied in other courses, in Boy Scouts, and in the Army. When it comes to firearms and bullets, some repetition doesn’t hurt. Safety procedures and concerns bear repeating. The course went quickly.

I had a chance to shoot an air soft Glock 19 copy, good for training purposes. The rest of the course was shot with pellet pistols and with .22s.

I hadn’t really done any shooting since my cataract surgeries healed. The intra-ocular lens implants leave unable to focus clearly on the front sight. So the next shooting I do will be done wearing my glasses. They may have use for other than night driving. Until then, I’ll have to adjust my stance to avoid hitting high and left.

Monday, May 24, 2010

24 May 2010 Pirates and peak baggers

U.S. destroyer frees ship from 50 pirates

By the CNN Wire Staff

May 24, 2010 10:02 a.m. EDT

The destroyer USS McFaul rescued a Panamanian-flagged vessel from pirates last week.

• Destroyer USS McFaul intercepted Panamanian vessel as it headed toward Somalia

• M/V Iceberg and crew of 24 were held by 50 pirates

• Warship followed vessel for 26 hours before interception

(CNN) -- A U.S. destroyer rescued a ship off the coast of Somalia after it was taken over by 50 pirates, authorities said.

Well done! This is one major reason why we have a navy.

Notice that the article does not indicate what happened to the pirates, only that the crew and shipped were free from captivity by pirates. I’m certain that there will be a long line of critics eager to sue the Navy on behalf of the pirates for some charge concerning failure to Mirandize, failure to warn the pirates in a timely and non-threatening manner, or some real or imagined insult to one or more minorities, religions, ethnicities, etc. If the 50 pirates, reportedly heavily armed, were deprived of liberty &/or life by action of our Navy, I can applaud their action and suggest that they carry on in a similar manner. We’ve too many pirates as it is. Removing a few from the gene pool is appropriate.

American boy, 13, breaks Everest record

By the CNN Wire Staff May 22, 2010 8:06 p.m. EDT

Jordan Romero has climbed six of the seven highest peaks on seven continents, known as the Seven Summits.

• "Their dreams have now come true," a statement on climber's blog said

• Jordan Romero, 13, has climbed six of the seven highest peaks on seven continents

• Jordan next will tackle Vinson Massif in Antarctica; a trip is planned for December

• CNN -- A 13-year-old American became the youngest climber to ever summit Mount Everest on Saturday.

• Jordan Romero's journey was tracked through GPS coordinates on his blog, logging his team's ascent up Everest, which is 29,028 feet (8,847 meters) above sea level.

This is, in many ways, a problem for me.

I first read about Everest attempts and Hillary’s/Norgay’s first ascent at about the age of 10. Living in central MO, there was not a lot of opportunity for a ten year old to take up mountaineering and rock climbing. The idea of climbing Everest never went away but it was only a distant dream. Expeditions to the Karakorum and Himalaya ranges were generally military style in organization. Membership was dependent upon who you knew and who you had impressed. By the time someone was invited to attempt an 8000 meter peak, they had usually built up a very extensive climbing resume. They often made their living as a guide, an instructor, some parallel career field that kept them active and on the mountains. They lived with the risks of mountaineering and often fell prey to their goals. There is reportedly a 10% chance of dying every time a climber sets foot into the Khumbu Ice Fall at the base of Everest. Before I met Gloria, I’d have happily taken that chance just to become part of a team.

With the growth of adventure tourism it was only a matter of time until commercial assents were organized in the Himalayas. Peak baggers could pay their $50,000 or so and be dragged up the mountains by teams of guides and Sherpas without really ever having trained as a mountaineer. Lots of deaths began to occur due to poorly prepared clients, congestion on the route, and just plain bad weather and poor preparation.

What was once available only to a lucky and dedicated few is now available to anyone with a large enough bank account. Temba Tsheri of Nepal, the previous youngest person to summit Everest did so while he was 16. However, he was working as a porter/guide rather than peak-bagging.

Jordan Romero has, apparently, worked hard to gain sponsors and “partners for his team, his father, his father’s girl friend and three Sherpa guides. He gets a lot of applause from me for being that focused and determined. He’s fortunate in having parents who can support someone attempting to conquer the 7 Summits. Most parents can’t buy the dream and even fewer can help fund it or become a partner on the climbs.

This summit attempt was made from the Chinese side of Everest. Nepal, wisely, has an age limit for Everest permits. China doesn’t.

Recently the summit of Everest has been reached by a 76 year old climber, a double amputee, a blind climber, by Apa Sherpa 20 times now. A helicopter has reportedly landed on and then flown off the summit.

Jordan Romero will have his name in the records of ascent and his age will be noted. In many ways, I’m sorry for him. He is too young to fully understand what it took to put the first people on the summit, what it cost climbers in terms of health, families, and careers. He put out immense effort on the climb; no one summits Everest without doing so. But he’s 13 and has been handed trips to all of the highest peaks/continent. After Vinson Massif in Antarctica, what will he find to challenge him? And at some time, he’s going to age sufficiently that his appearance and age will no longer make it easy for him to find sponsors.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

23 May 2010 Oh, dear! How big will my bonus be?

23 May 2010 Oh, dear! How big will my bonus be?

“Official: BP 'devastated' by Gulf oil spill

By the CNN Wire Staff

May 23, 2010 1:19 p.m. EDT

CNN) -- The managing director of BP on Sunday defended his company against a perceived lack of credibility, insisting that "nobody is more devastated" by an underwater oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

"All of us at BP are trying to solve the problem," Robert Dudley said on CNN's "State of the Union." "... We've been open about what we're doing."

Oil has been spewing into the Gulf since late April, when the drill rig Deepwater Horizon -- which BP was leasing from its owner, Transocean -- exploded and sank about 40 miles off Louisiana. BP has estimated oil is flowing out of the well, located beneath 5,000 feet of water, at the rate of about 5,000 barrels a day (210,000 gallons). However, some have estimated the flow rate far higher, and critics have claimed BP is attempting to downplay the spill, its magnitude and possibly its effect on the environment.

Asked about comments made by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, who alleged BP has "lost all credibility," Dudley said. "Those words hurt a little bit."

The fouling of Gulf of Mexico waters continues, essentially un-diminished in volume since 22 April. BP spends a lot of time explaining that they “will do everything possible.”, and little apparent time doing anything other than watching the oil pour out of the seabed and attempting to blame other companies for the disaster. Each promised attempt to stop the gush of oil consumes several days of talking about what they want to accomplish, followed by failure to accomplish anything, and followed by explaining how hard it is to do what they need to do.

Yes, it is difficult to extract oil from a mile beneath the surface of the ocean. Drilling into rock beneath the seabed adds even more difficulty. But inherent in the permission to deplete common natural resources while fattening corporate coffers is the responsibility to understand what can go wrong and take steps to prevent it going wrong. Also inherent is the responsibility to know how to recover from something that their internal greed caused them to FUBAR.

They knew, BP knew, that the well was not properly protected, that the blow-out-preventer was damaged, was not communicating with the drill rig, and that its batteries were dead. Yet they went ahead with tests that indicated pressures in the well and then, after logging erroneous results, demanded that the well be sealed inadequately.

Halliburton coasts on this fuck-up. They knew they were being asked to cut corners, knew what had happened in a similar instance in the Timor Sea, and still let BP coerce them into shoddy and inadequate work sealing the well. They’ll escape major blame using the “We were only following orders” excuse.

No one knows, yet, how much environmental, social, and economic damage BP’s greed has unleashed. It will affect millions of Americans and untold areas of ocean. But BP “is devastated.” and that makes it alright. I wonder if BP will still be devastated when they post record profits for another quarter.

The American taxpayer is going to pay for the cleanup. Our government will eventually have to step in and take over the task or nothing will be accomplished. Then we’ll pay for it a second time as BP recovers their expenses in telling us, over and over, how sorry they are, how they will clean it all up, and of course, as their executives receive their customary “post disaster bonuses.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

22 May 2010 So much for reality television

22 May 2010 So much for reality television

Food TV is supposedly filming in the neighborhood.

“From the Food Network:


Premieres: August 15th at 10pm ET/PT

Tyler Florence hosts as seven teams of the country’s best food truck cooks hit the road to sauté their way across America. Each week, the teams that sell the most food in the challenge city race to the next episode, and the losing team drives home. One food truck team comes out on top and wins a $50,000 grand prize!

We happened to see a brief newspaper item about this two weeks ago. So we decided to follow up. According to the Jonesborough weekly newspaper, there were to be three teams remaining in competition and selling food in Jonesborough today from 0800-2000.

We left here at 1230, hoping to find something unique or at least different for lunch. The designated area was empty of food trucks. They had packed up and gone elsewhere, perhaps to return at 1600.

We ate in a local restaurant, walked through a couple of shops, and did some grocery shopping before coming home. The contestants may be back tomorrow or Monday. We won’t be. I don’t care to make a 30 mile round trip to see a reality television show in progress.

Friday, May 21, 2010

21 May 2010 unsubstantiated rumor and concern

21 May 2010 unsubstantiated rumor and concern

Today dawned overcast with moderate temps and the promise of rain. After somewhat leisurely morning routines, I leashed Loki, kissed Gloria, and headed out for the Friday hike with Mike. We stepped out smartly for the first half of the walk, the downhill portion. Desultory conversation sprang from bits and bytes of news reports, about Arizona, immigration, and odds and ends. The reverse route is mostly uphill, a much greater delta elevation than it appears when seated and rolling. About half-way back, one of the oldest valley residents stopped and asked us if we had heard any disturbance about 2230 last night.

Apparently two males turned up on his ex-wife’s front porch. She lives about 0.3 miles downstream of us, nest house down from Mike. The neighbor diagonally across the street was sitting on his porch and stood up to get a better look. His motion triggered his outdoor lighting, which then alerted the two males who had no business being on the front porch of an elderly woman at that time of night. They turned and ran up-valley, either in the creek or on the road, the teller was uncertain.

This is quite disconcerting. This has all the characteristics of a home invasion, stopped fortuitously by chance. The woman who lives there is not wealthy and probably had no reason to expect visitors at that time of night. She would, most likely, be unable to fend off two adult males. Their flight up-valley suggests that they know the area.

I was outdoors at 2200 with Loki. The neighborhood was quiet then. Mike was outdoors at 2130 and heard/saw nothing unusual. Something turned ugly shortly afterward.

I went over handgun mechanics with Gloria when came in this morning. We’re going to make sure she gets some practice in this afternoon. The dog won’t like it but safety in the home is of greater concern. I’ve asked Gloria not to answer the door when she’s alone without her pistol. We’ve reviewed when it is allowable to shoot and when it is not.

I hope this gets investigated and whoever was there without reason to be there gets caught by the authorities. Mike and I both have a strong suspicion as to who one of the people might be. More later, handgun practice time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

20 May 2010 Get out the vote and find a home

20 May 2010 Get out the vote and find a home

At the age of 8, while living in Olivette, MO, I became a Cub Scout. I recall the Pack, shepherded by parents, going door to door putting “Get Out the Vote” hang tags on door knobs. The candidates were Eisenhower and Stevenson. I knew that Ike, the incumbent, was a military man who had worked magic in the ETO during WWII. I knew much less about Adlai. It didn’t matter. The purpose was to involve young boys in a civic process, making them part of the process of a national election.

I stayed in Cub Scouts, through various relocations, until the age of 11, when I became eligible to become a Boy Scout.

Cub Scouts had provided some semblance of belonging to a group after moving into a new community and school. The grade school I was attending was heavily invested in running a flag football program to feed the town’s high school needs. Athletes were at the top of the heap even then. I made an effort to join but a skinny severely myopic kid wasn’t of much use to the coaches who ran the local youth sports teams. I attended practices and sat on the bench until I finally realized I was wasting my time.

Boy Scouting provided an opportunity to belong to another group, one that recognized personal goals and achievement. Once I settled on which troop to join, a matter of some importance as the troops were all sponsored by churches, I was on the way. Scouting gave me a chance to explore some things that interested me but which I could not learn in school or at home. Canoeing, rowing, motor-boating merit badges opened up ways to explore part of the physical world. Swimming and Life-Saving merit badges, required for Eagle, taught ways to keep myself safe in the water.

I advanced quickly from Tenderfoot to First Class. Learning basic scouting and outdoor skills took little time. The last three ranks, Star, Life, and Eagle, took a lot more time as the various requirements could often only be met while camping or at summer camp.

From the age of 11 to 17 I spent part of every summer at Scout Camp as a camper with my troop or as a staff member. We all had to have typhoid shots before attending camp in those days. The Council organized immunization clinics on three successive weeks and we all stood in line, shirts off, to receive our injection of typhoid vaccine. The first dose was harsh, gave me a low-grade fever and head ache. The rest were not bad to deal with. There were always passed out during these clinics.

Being on staff gave me a chance to pick up extra education, to practice a bit of leadership, and to learn still more skills that I would never have picked up in school or on an athletic field. I learned to shoot a rifle at 11. The Council had 7 old single shot bolt-action .22 rifles that had been in use since 1950 or so. They were not match-grade firearms by any means but I leaned to put the rounds into the black consistently, earned my Marksmanship merit badge, got my NRA Hunter Safety training and card while my school classmates were throwing balls back and forth and running wind sprints.

While my fellow students were playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track, I was learning to pack a canoe for a week’s trip, to build a fire without charcoal lighter. I was learning to sharpen knives, axes, and to use poles and rope to build structures without nails. While they were attending after-school games, I was learning Morse code, learning to identify local trees and plants, learning to cook over open fires with Dutch ovens, and to navigate with a map and compass. I was learning to use ropes and lines for all manner of purposes not taught in school. While my school classmates cheered for one team or another, I explored archery, public safety, journalism, citizenship, camping in all seasons, fishing, first-aid, tracking, and other skills that paid off later in my life.

Some of the things I learned kept me alive in VietNam. At least I believe they did.

Boy Scouting is often criticized as a para-military organization. It certainly was when I was active as a youth. Most of our Scoutmasters were veterans of WWII &/or Korea. Troop meetings had a bit of parade ground style to the opening moments. Our troop gear included a lot of Army surplus tentage; shelter halves that we learned to pitch securely enough to stay dry in most rains. Our Jerry cans were all surplus as was a lot of unit cooking gear.

I left Scouting when I entered university. I came back to it as an adult leader when my sons became Scouts. Rather than stay at local level I wound up volunteering at district and council level. I stayed involved until 1993. I may return again someday, but right now, things are wonderful as they are. I don’t have any need of a place to camp at a moment’s notice.

As a boy, I never saw any evidence of abuse, sexual impropriety, or exclusion due to who anyone was. There was a place for any kid who wanted to be a Boy Scout. As an adult, I know of one leader who should never have been accepted into the program and had concerns about two other adults. By and large the program provides adequate protection for the kids in that aspect.

On the other hand, Scouting has become a numbers game for the paid professionals in each council. The program brings in many kids before they are physically and mentally ready to explore what BSA has to offer, runs them through the program until they have hit the high points and then has nothing to hold them after age 24 or so.

The technology available to Scouting has changed markedly. I’ll take that up another day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

19 May 2010 If only I could draw

19 May 2010

“Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan is blocking access to Facebook in response to an online group calling on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed, officials said Wednesday.”!/pages/Everybody-Draw-Mohammed-Day/121369914543425?ref=search&sid=1390270447.2743249721..1

“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! We have reached 50.000 members. As the news of the rebellion against the attacks to our liberties are heard, brave people join the campaign to stave of those who would annihilate that which we believe in, freedom.

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of

good conscience to remain silent."

“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! From Australia and moving westwards, over india, a new day dawns. The day of the annual "Everybody Draw Muhammed Day!" Use your creative skills; show your talent, for today. As the British set-point for time, and we enter this day, we make our stand. Our resolve stands, his image will be portrayed in ink and pixel and crayon alike, for none stands above the freedoms for which our future is depends upon…”

Some 50,000 people have signed on to draw, paint, or in some manner depict Mohammed tomorrow. This is calculated to offend fundamentalist Moslems and will probably offend many who are not fundamentalists.

I applaud the concept of the mass action. The violence that followed the Danish cartoons was planned as a demonstration of how Moslems could disrupt cities in Europe and North America. The bulk of demonstrations took place in officially Moslem nations.

“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Main article: Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy

The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons were first published by Jyllands-Posten in late September 2005; approximately two weeks later, nearly 3,500 people demonstrated peacefully in Copenhagen. In November, several European newspapers re-published the images, triggering more protests.

Labour strikes began in Pakistan the following month, and several organizations criticized the Danish government. More protests occurred in January 2006, and later that month a boycott of Danish goods began. Several countries withdrew their ambassadors to Denmark, and widespread protests, some of them violent, began. The protests continued in February. In Damascus, Syria, both the Norwegian embassy and a building containing the Danish, Swedish, and Chilean embassies were stormed and set on fire by protesters. In Beirut, thousands of people protested on the streets, and the Danish General Consulate was stormed and set on fire. As of 2 March 2006, at least 139 people have died primarily during riots stemming from protests. On 1 January 2010, a man was shot whilst attempting to kill Kurt Westergaard, one of the original cartoonists.”

The choice to avoid major conflicts that would result in need for police and other means of legal involvement by European nations was a wise choice. While Moslem populations are growing in size in nearly every part of Europe, there is no great love for Moslem immigrants in Europe. The current radicalization of 2nd and 3rd generations of Europeans who derive citizenship from immigrants from Moslem states is becoming problematic for governments in Europe and in North America.

The London subway bombings and the recent underwear bomb attempt and Times Square car bomb attempt were carried out by such younger Moslems who are essentially sleepers, lone wolves waiting to be incited by Moslem clerics from outside the borders of the target nations. It is entirely possible that “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” will sufficiently inflame one of these clerics who will incite another attack.

This volatility centered around an image of Mohammed is one of the facets of Islam that creates such distance between Moslem and non-Moslem citizens. While Judaism has a prohibition against graven images depicting the deity’ and while Christianity adopted the same ban initially, Islam stands alone in having a ban upon a prophet. There are literally thousands of well-known works of art depicting Christian saints, prophets, and a deity in liturgy and ritual. There are also many well-respected works of art depicting Mohammed made by Moslems.

It is ridiculous for a population of fundamentalists of any faith to interfere in the civic functions of a city, a nation, or the world at large because they believe someone insulted their deity or some character in their mythos. That includes Jews, Christians, Hindus protesting mistreatment of cows, Moslems upset about cartoons of Mohammed, or any other religious group. Such civic disruptions should be halted immediately by civil authorities and religious leaders should realize that such actions demonstrate failure to adapt religion to the modern world and alienate non-believers from the believers in every case.

The Danish cartoons were conceived of as a demonstration of freedom of speech and press in modern nations. The response in officially Moslem nations demonstrates that freedom of speech and press do not generally fair well in the less evolved Moslem nations. Pakistan certainly displays the effects of Moslem dominance over civil law.

The consequences of restricting access to a web site for citizens of a modern, industrialized nation with limited religious interference in civil law would be likely to cause demonstrations. But the demonstrations would be calling for a change in government, not calling for religious control of the media.

I have to measure any government action against religious practices against the Holocaust. If the uniforms were changed and similar actions taken against the populace because of religion, would I object? Intentionally defacing religious relics such as a Torah scroll, hand copied onto parchment would qualify as objectionable. But defacing a commonly available ink-on-paper Tanach, which contains the Torah’s entire contents in print, would not qualify as equally objectionable. And while extremely vile cartoons of Jews have been printed for centuries, they are offensive in nature but not illegal because of religion. The people who draw them are legally free, including the same Moslems who rioted at cartoons of Mohammed.

I have no drawing skills. I see no reason to intentionally offend all Moslems. But I see no value in allowing fundamentalists of any faith to limit my freedom of speech or press. I’m hoping to see some really good cartoons tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

18 May 2010 How long can a Somali pirate tread water?

18 May 2010 How long can a Somali pirate tread water?

Somalia pirates' clash with Russian navy reveals a gap in rule of law

By Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The pirates attacked the merchant ship early on the morning of May 5. The crew locked themselves in the engine room with a stock of food and water. A naval destroyer came steaming to the rescue and demanded that the pirates give up the ship. When they refused, the destroyer attacked with guns and cannons and, after a brief firefight, the pirates surrendered. Had this been a story from a children's book -- the kind with a skull and crossbones on the cover and a foldout treasure map inside -- the pirates would then have walked the plank. But it wasn't. This was 2010. The merchant ship was not a schooner but a Russian tanker, carrying 86,000 metric tons of crude oil worth $52 million. The pirates were not colorful figures with cutlasses but Somalis led by professionals who knew what this cargo was worth.

As for the Russian destroyer, it was not operating according to an 18th-century code of honor but according to international law, such as it is. Theoretically, the captain was supposed to hand the detainees and the evidence over to regional police. Not wanting to involve himself in legal wrangling, however, he decided to "release" the pirates instead. And thus they were "set free" in a tiny inflatable raft, with no navigation equipment, 350 miles off the coast of Yemen. The raft has disappeared. In the 21st century, this is how pirates walk the plank.

Our Navy and every other navy got its start as an agent of the state organized to suppress piracy. As far back as recorded history goes, there have been pirates. Maritime and Naval law is partially about assurance of freedom of the sea lanes, rights of passage, protection of commercial vessels from pirates. The solution for pirates, once apprehended, has classically been to make sure that they never again practice piracy. That has been accomplished by using many methods. They have been dispatched by sword, by abandonment, by rope, arrows, by drowning, and by less kind methods. Usually their demise was similar in manner to that they used to dispatch their victims.

Since every naval ship’s captain is acting as a commissioned agent of his government, prior to the mid 19th century they were authorized to try, convict, sentence, and execute those apprehended in the act of piracy, the historical precedent exists. That relationship still exists for captains of men of war. While international law has largely prevented gun deck courts-martial for pirates, the current treatment of pirates as aquatic thieves has not been sufficient to prevent piracy. Civil trials in nations that don’t use capital punishment don’t provide enough deterrence to prevent piracy becoming an attractive occupation.

A return to swift trial, sentencing, and execution for piracy is the best solution. There will be cries for the pirates, “deprived from birth,” “unfairly tried and convicted,” “unjustly executed.” I’m not bothered by those cries. Pirates are terrorists, murderers, and kidnappers/hostage takers. Their hostages are abused, beaten, starved, raped, and often killed. They are owed no mercy, no pity, and no compassion. I’m happy with the solution adopted by Russian, Danish, Netherlands, and Naval officers from other nations engaged in anti-piracy duty in the Indian Ocean. It’s time for our Navy to return to the same practice.

Some of the people I indirectly communicate with or around on a fly fishing forum have repeatedly condemned “the elitists” in politics as encouraged by Fox News and Palin, the resignator. They need to return to those days when the definitions of target populations shifted daily and the mob scooped up all accused without any reason but vengeance, greed, or envy. They’re fond of making such unfounded accusations about politicians and citizens as the uninformed did. They need to be cautious about unleashing a mob. It may well engulf them.

This was my response to another round of anti-“Elitist” comments:

We should be careful when we let the mob load "the elite" into the tumbrels. Any of us who has completed a university degree: who has ever worked a white collar job; practiced medicine or allied professions; practiced law; engineering; journalism; owned a company that employs others; served as an officer or NCO in our armed forces; is computer literate, has the opportunity to spend time on social sites such as this while others are engaged in physical labor; can easily be considered "the elite" by others with less leisure time, less intellectual curiosity, &/or less education.

And that bar may, all too quickly, become too high for the mob.

Those of us with multiple fly rods and reels, collections of firearms for hunting and for recreation, multiple cars, large suburban homes, recreational boats, satellite radios, smart phones, library cards may fall into the pool of "elitists." We joke about ourselves as elitists in comparison to other recreational fishers. But we're only partially joking.

As Colston knows, you can organize the first mob but you can't control who winds up in it, or what direction it ultimately takes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

17 May 2010 time to set up a dog blind

17 May 2010 time to set up a dog blind

The promised rains have arrived. Small thunderstorm cells are entraining along the Tennessee/North Carolina border. A bit of heavy rain would be welcome today. The path to the mailbox is heavily littered with dog feces left behind by the uncontrolled dogs that are owned by the bad neighbor across the road.

A long career spent looking at concentrated feces through a microscope tells me that these dogs are parasite-laden. The nature of the offensive material suggests dogs scavenging for food, and the frequently dropped. Partially eaten fast food containers confirm scavenging.

This afternoon will be consumed by ca. half an NRA handgun course.

Palin’s latest pronouncements demonstrate an immense disconnect from the reality of birth control and family planning as it affects people who don’t have dual incomes, who don’t use other children as babysitters instead of keeping them in school, and who aren’t rabid fundamentalist Christians who believe humans and dinosaurs co-existed. I fail to understand how anyone can find her acceptable for any political office. But these are the same people who voted for Reagan and George W Bush, swallowing the trickle down economic myth, repeatedly. Guess who the idiot across the street would vote for.

I was regaled this morning with an account of Newt Gingrich’s speech to the NRA convention. Gingrich is another of the more despicable GOP persons of ill intent; willing to sell out the nation for profits and power. I avoided commenting and simply put pavement behind my shoes. Score one for patience.

According to the NWS, locally heavy rains are possible. Hope it works out that way.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

16 May 2010 Who let them ask me that?

Palin to Obama: 'Do your job, secure our border

(CNN) -- Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin joined the national battle over Arizona's controversial new immigration law Saturday, appearing with Gov. Jan Brewer in Phoenix to denounce the Obama administration's criticism of the law.

"It's time for Americans across this great country to stand up and say 'We're all Arizonans now and, in clear unity, we say Mr. President, do your job, secure our border,'" Palin said, standing beside Brewer at a Saturday afternoon press conference.

More idiocy from the once and former beauty queen contestant. If someone can ever sneak a question about maps into the mix, the result could be more entertaining than the former Ms. Teen S. Carolina’s response.
John R Johnson posted to CNN 16 May 2010 some concise and to the point commentary on the political suitability of Palin and exploring her fall back answer, “I like them all!” Well, to be honest, it doesn’t take much to be considered concise and to the point when one is discussing Ms. Palin. But Mr. Johnson’s comments are accurate and amusing. They can be found in the responses to the article linked above. They’re worth taking the time to sift throught. Mr. Johnson applies Palin’s beauty pagent standard emergency response, hauled out whenever she was asked a question she was unprepared to answer (“I like them all!” ) to the various interviews and debates which took place when she could not control the content of questions.

Having spent no time in the beauty pagent world, I’m not familiar with the emergency fallbacks that the pageant participants musts practice. Of course they must have such stock answers. All jobs and professions have them. Mine included such greats as:

“The analyzer is down for maintenance.”;

“Microbes only grow so fast.”;

“If you wanted a full coag workup you should have ordered one.”;


“ If the drug the pharma-Barbie wants you to use is not on our standard panel, that’s just too bad, and by the way, did she tell you about the side-effects?”

“Sorry, we stopped offering that test 20 years ago,”

I’ve been handed those stock replies by lots of other people: mechanics, appliance repair people, grocery clerks, delivery service drivers,

The part has to come from Malaysia,

The part has to be special-ordered.

That item has to come from our warehouse and we only stock it once a month.

The package wasn’t crushed when we left it on your doorstep.

Mr. Johnson did a great job of taking Palin’s panic phrase and demonstrating when and how she has used it.

Good examples, John!

I like them all!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

15 May 2010 You just might be developmentally delayed

15 May 2010 You just might be developmentally delayed

I was offered a chance to attend the NRA annual convention in Charlotte VA; transport and admission included. I declined.

I am not a member of the NRA and don’t plan on becoming a member of the NRA. I do not like the organization’s use of fear-mongering and frank lies to raise money for lobbyists to use in support of the Republican Party. I don’t like the organization’s insistence that Americans need unfettered access to own fully automatic weapons. I don’t like the NRA’s continual push to retain gun show background check loopholes. I don’t like its assertion that prohibiting firearms sales to people on the terrorism watch list is threatening to 2nd Amendment protection.

I find it darkly amusing that Sarah Palin was a keynote speaker at this NRA convention. While literacy is not required to own and use a firearm, I would think that even the NRA would like to maintain an appearance of intellectual capability among its membership. Obviously I am mistaken. She delivered the expected, “Obama and Pelosis are coming for your guns any day now!” (One presumes without having to result to palmistry). The house swallowed this whole while seemingly forgetting that Obama has just signed off on a bill making it legal to carry firearms in national parks. After more disconnected, canned fear-mongering she descended to a new low.

Someone in her pack of handlers responding to the claim that the Tea Party mob is largely an assemblage of rural and southern red-necks steered her to imitate Jeff Foxworthy and to acknowledge that she has adopted the lowest common demographic. She, therefore, unleashed a set of “you might be a red-neck if…” jokes. But where Foxworthy’s jokes demonstrate an intellectual awareness, Palin’s use of them further demonstrates her lack of intellect and lack of willingness to actually try to advance intellectually. Instead of memorizing one or two jokes to include in her “speech” she read a bunch of them from her cell phone as if she were chanting another set of “talking points.” Personally, that sort of poor preparation and insulting performance would have me out of my seat and asking for my gate fee back. But the NRA audience apparently doesn’t mind being read to by someone who reads at about third grade level. After hearing the magic mantra, “Obama wants to take your guns away!” I guess they are willing to applaud anything that follows.

How terribly sad that the founders who had the intellect to write the 2nd Amendment are now supposedly linearly represented by men and women who lack the ability to read and understand the document they claim to want to defend. How disturbing that the NRA is likely to lobby for the continued right to circumvent existing gun registration laws and to demand that suspected terrorists still be allowed to purchase firearms. How troubling that someone who prides herself on not being intellectually curious should be lionized by NRA members because she has hunted moose from a helicopter. Her claims to be environmentally concerned are about as well founded as are the NRA’s that gun confiscation is eminent.

Gloria and I will actually be taking an NRA hand gun class, taught by our neighbor, Mike, next week. The NRA has a good hunter safety program that I took as a Boy Scout. They still offer it today and it is a great model for others to use in teaching hunter and firearms safety. The NRA used to be more about education than about fear-mongering. I get mail from them every month wanting money to use to warn others of the impending confiscation of our guns. When they stop that bull shit and return to teaching safety I might actually consider helping them. Until then, they’re just another bunch of lobbyists pumping fear and hatred into people who already contain too much of both.

Friday, May 14, 2010

14 May 2010 So much for interstate commerce

14 May 2010 So much for interstate commerce

Our staunch conservatives tar any ideas of national ID cards for American citizens and legal residents with the dreaded label of European socialism, Nazism, Communism, or some “totalitarian” combination of all the above; as the staunch conservative base often has no real knowledge of what distinguishes one form of government from another. They are, of course, all too willing to take their incorrect information from the Fox News pundits and the other demagogues of the right wing. So therefore, national identification documents are a socialist evil, unless you happen to be visibly Hispanic.

To add idiocy to the mix, several major cities have now decided that they will boycott Arizona events, companies/corporations, and affairs; in a regressive imitation of Medieval politics between city states that will make no difference in cultural attitudes among Arizonans, but which will fan the flames already damaging constructive efforts to solve American immigration problems.

Los Angeles approves Arizona travel boycott

By Alan Duke, CNN May 13, 2010 12:46 p.m. EDT

CNN) -- The Los Angeles City Council overwhelmingly approved a boycott of Arizona-based businesses and governments Wednesday unless the state repeals a new law giving police the power to question a detainee's immigration status.

Several other California cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, have already adopted resolutions requesting city departments to not sign any new contracts with Arizona companies.

In Arizona, just say no to Latino heritage

By Eugene Robinson

Friday, May 14, 2010

At least we don't have to pretend anymore. Arizona's passing of that mean-spirited immigration law wasn't about high-minded principle or the need to maintain public order. Apparently, it was all about putting Latinos in their place.

It's hard to reach any other conclusion given the state's latest swipe at Latinos. On Tuesday, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a measure making it illegal for any course in the public schools to "advocate ethnic solidarity." Arizona's top education official, Tom Horne, fought for the new law as a weapon against a program in Tucson that teaches Mexican American students about their history and culture.

Horne claims the Tucson classes teach "ethnic chauvinism." He has complained that young Mexican Americans are falsely being led to believe that they belong to an oppressed minority. The way to dispel that notion, it seems, is to pass oppressive new legislation aimed squarely at Mexican Americans. That'll teach the kids a lesson, all right: We have power. You don't.

I dislike the practice of cities boycotting other cities in this nation. We are supposed to be one, united, populace. We are supposed to be concerned for each other. This immigration problem is driving a huge wedge between non-Latinos and Latinos.

I favor legal immigration. The nation has long benefitted from new ethnic groups being absorbed into the mix. I am adamantly opposed to illegal immigration. I am even more opposed, if possible, to the demands by “immigrants’ rights” groups for open borders, for general amnesty for illegals, and by the practice of “sanctuary” offered illegal aliens by churches and cities. We are not living in the dark ages, ruled by divine right rulers and a “mother church.”

Here’s what I see. Spain lost its colonial hold on Mexico and parts north just as England and France lost their colonies. After Mexico became independent it lost a war for territory with the United States. California and other parts of the continent were later seized and made part of the U.S. Mexico’s oligarchic nature, a holdover from Spanish colonization in league with the Catholic Church laid the groundwork to make Mexico the third world nation it became and remains today. Therefore, opportunities for better paying jobs in the U.S. have fueled a steady stream of illegal aliens ready to work for unscrupulous employers who will hire them in defiance of U.S. immigration and labor laws.

What has evolved in a pool of illegals and legal immigrants, who now want to return the U.S. Southwest to Mexico. They fail to see that such an action would merely make the returned lands as much a third world sink hole as Mexico is today. The problem is not in the U.S.’s possession of the territory but in the very nature of Mexico.

So while I am sympathetic to their desires for a better life, I find their demands for territory exchange, for open borders, for amnesty, and their practice of waving Mexican flags in demand for “immigrants’ right” they have no legal claim to, to be highly objectionable. So do a large percentage of non-Latino Americans.

I’m willing to support a boycott. I’m all in favor of boycotting those cities that have offered “sanctuary “ in opposition to U.S. immigration law. Any church offering “sanctuary” should immediately be stripped of its tax-exempt status. My understanding of medieval history is adequate to remind me that such actions as Los Angeles’ in response to the stupidity of Arizona will damage the fabric of this nation. When I hear “states’ rights” I think of the horrible toll racism took on this nation during and after our Civil War. Now I’m beginning to hear “cities’ rights” bandied about as if these cities are independent states. We really can’t allow such rifts to form and widen. They have to be stopped now, preferably in court instead of in the streets.

Congress needs to do its part as well. We need national ID cards, we need to enforce the immigration laws we have on the books, and we need to avoid any form of amnesty. Mexico needs to take care of Mexicans. We have a hard enough time just taking care of ourselves. It’s only going to become harder.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

13 May 2010 Razing Arizona

13 May 2010 Razing Arizona

The recent immigration legislation signed into law in Arizona is supported by 64-75% of non-Hispanic Americans, depending upon which poll results you choose to accept. 70% of Latinos object to the new law. MSNBC’s most recent poll numbers are linked below.

Arizona has now passed a law which will essentially prohibit any classroom instruction that is centered on ethnic groups. It will become illegal to have a Mexican history chapter in a textbook, a Black history month in school. This is certain to drive an even larger wedge between white and Latino Arizonans.

I recognize the need to end illegal immigration by Mexicans and others. Our taxes should not, in my opinion, be used to house, feed, medicate, or educate Mexican citizens. There should be no more anchor babies. There should not be open borders into this nation for any ethnic or national group. There should not be any long process to allow illegal immigrants to avoid deportation.

On the other hand, I object to Mexican separatist groups who want to return the S.W. United States to Mexico. We fought that war once. For the record, I also object to Hawaiian and Alaskan secessionist groups, Militia groups that believe they are now the legitimate successors to the U.S. government, and any other group that wants to separate from or re-draw the boundaries of the U.S.A.

I understand the anger these immigration problems create. Arizona is spending the annual revenues of many smaller nations to deal with illegal aliens. That problem should be dealt with by the federal government. Congress refuses to shoulder the burden of immigration reform lest they lose GOP backing for being too liberal or Democratic backing for being too conservative. Amnesty is not acceptable to me and millions of others. Reagan created a horrid mess when he pushed an amnesty through Congress.

The problem must be dealt with rapidly and the solution will satisfy neither political party. However it is reformed, Hispanics will be unhappy with the new laws and with enforcement of those laws. So will non-Hispanic Americans.

One result of any reform is likely to be a national ID card, biometric in nature, for all citizens. The practice of living without ID documents should be over and must be over. The Cold War anti-Communist scare tactics about personal documentation need to be brushed away. We are not the same nation today as we were in 1917. We can’t continue to run our nation and its infrastructures using 1950’s clerical methods. I don’t object to carrying ID. I’ve always done so since beginning work at 14 years of age and applying for a Social Security Card. I also carry state-mandated ID for driving and for firearms possession, hunting, and fishing. I don’t leave home without them. It is not hard, at all, to be certain that I have my ID with me. I don’t feel threatened by the fact that I can be identified or that law officers can and have asked for my ID. Nor should anyone else living here legally feel threatened.

That being said, Arizona is wrong in passing both laws. The second is truly odious.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

12 May 2010 Still looking under their beds at night

12 May 2010 Still looking under their beds at night.

Creeping socialism, Red Scare, Yellow Peril, Fellow Travelers, “Godless, atheistic, Jewish Communists.” These bon mottes and other remnants of the Cold War are constantly being dredged up, in the best J. Edgar Hoover manner, by the GOP, John Birchers, Christian Militias, and others who still look under their beds at night to make certain no Communist is there, placing a mind-control device, to indoctrinate and brain-wash them during the hours of darkness.

Elena Kagan is now going to become rather well reacquainted with these slurs, and others, that will be used in another attempt to tar a well-qualified nominee as a “socialist,” looking to overthrow the Constitution.

The GOP has never been particularly concerned with diversity in political matters. They’ve had no qualms about excluding any minority from the Supreme Court, from representation in Congress, or from any of the other benefits that the Constitution affords to citizens of this nation. WASP rule has been the standard of practice for most of this nation’s life. Catholics have been 2nd class citizens when being considered for the Judiciary, for civic boards, and elected positions until JFK demonstrated that being Catholic in faith did not enslave an American citizen to the Vatican. Then, when the GOP began courting the religious right, using, abortion, homosexuality, and other wedge issues, as bait, the Catholic hierarchy became ensnared by the religious right. Now they share the stage with GOP theocrats – Protestants evangelical fundamentalists who wish to require everyone to behave as they claim we should all behave.

Jews were also excluded from many of the same roles. Despite the Jewish drive to obtain and use education, their excellence in many professional fields of endeavor and their representation in such fields in great excess of their percentage of the American demographic; the GOP has tried to exclude Jews just as they have Catholics, Lutherans, Moslems, and of course, Hindus. We can make the same observations with regard to various ethnic minorities.

Case in point is the current nomination of Elena Kagan. She is an Ivy League educated female of Russian-American parents and is Jewish. There are also persistent rumors that she is a lesbian. Despite the hopes of the GOP, these seem to be unfounded.

Kagan if confirmed will become the third Jew on the current SCOTUS bench. The other six members are Catholic, largely a result of the wedge issue politics practiced by the GOP. The evangelicals have suddenly discovered that they will have no presence on the SCOTUS. They have suddenly begun yammering about the need for diversity and the lack of a “fair percentage” in the makeup of the court. This should be very interesting as it plays out.

Kagan is certainly going to be attacked for her academic background, her un-married status, her history as Dean of Harvard Law School. The GOP and Tea Party mobs will want to attack her for her religious background and her writings on socialism. I can hear the voices muttering Commie Jew in any of a dozen planning sessions run by pseudo-conservatives and theocrats. I wonder how long until those words surface.

The religious right’s view on diversity: We’re all for it as long as it means we get to pack the court with WASPs and kick everyone else off.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

11 May 2010 How big is your Congress person’s head

11 May 2010 How big is your Congress person’s head

“BP, subcontractors: Spill is the other guy's fault”

As almost anyone could have predicted, the various companies that may be responsible for the oil spill have begun claiming that the fault lies with each other. And this is possible because of the practice of outsourcing any and everything that is a major problem with United States business practice today. Outsourcing, combined with the removal of almost all oversight and regulation during the Reagan and Bush presidencies allows all the blame to be outsourced along with all the employees. What remains? Corporate executives, corporate attorneys, a few corporations acting as share holders; and one or two secretaries to print out the letters that terminate any employees still producing something with physical properties, so that those jobs can be outsourced as well.

In the mean time, the cost of gasoline has increased so that consumers can get used to paying for the time the various company executives spend worrying about sticking the blame onto someone else, and to compensate them for the hours they will spend denying any lack of guilt to Congress. Congress will admonish them gently for the public’s consumption, pocket the usual corporate contributions, and PR firms will blanket the television airwaves with programming telling us how hard the oil industry is working to stop the leak, clean up the damage, and prevent further blowouts. We’ll be told how many billions BP, Halliburton, and Deepwater Horizon are spending to save the Gulf’s ecosystem. BP and Halliburton will, of course, post record profits this year.

Closer to home, by a few miles, perhaps; the GOP lie factory and political assassination machine are cranking up to discredit current Solicitor General Elena Kagan in an attempt to prevent her being confirmed as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ms. Kagan’s nomination has raised ire among the GOP, the Tea Party mob, and among the Christian right.

Ms. Kagan has never served as a judge despite a lifelong career in jurisprudence. This will be raised against her by a Senator who claimed the “learning curve for Supreme Court Justices is very steep.” Of course, he neglected to mention that so is the learning curve for members of the U.S. Senate. I see no problem for Ms. Kagan.

She will be grilled by GOP Senators in an effort to discover her positions on abortion, same gender marriage, and other wedge issues that she has been wise enough to avoid to this point in time. Her views are her business, not that of the GOP. If she is required to rule on these matters I hope she will find as I would and thus balance the SCOTUS a bit more than it currently is.

She will be attacked for attempting to ban military recruitment at Harvard Law School while serving as Dean of HLS. While I disagree with the ban, I don’t find it discrediting. Her reasoning for the ban was one I can support. Again, wedge issues will be used by the GOP.

In my opinion, the confirmation process has become a confrontation between the GOP and Obama. Congress is required to advise, not given a green light to behave as they have for the last 15 months. If it were up to me, I’d be sending any Senator up for re-election, and every Congressperson home with a pink slip. We should not allow them to establish little satraps for their selves, trading influence and votes for bribes, graft, and re-election funding. I wonder just how many we would need to stop the flow of oil from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. That, of course, would depend upon the diameter of the Congressional crania. I’d be quite content to volunteer Congressman Roe, (R) TN to be used to stop up the leak. I’ve heard him speak enough to know that his head is swollen with self-importance. I also know several nurses at the local VA hospital who would confirm his highly inflated view of his self-worth.

Send your elected Congresspersons and Senators for a Gulf vacation today!

Monday, May 10, 2010

10 May 2010 To the victor, the spoil

10 May 2010 To the victor, the spoil

The Gulf of Mexico continues to be the recipient of thousands of gallons of crude oil each day. There is no uncertainty remaining about ecological damage except for “how bad is it going to be in the end?” No one is willing to admit that we are facing a disaster of earth-altering magnitude. Food chains will be disrupted, the amount of water evaporated by the sun will be changed, and Oxygen production by marine phyto-plankton will be decreased. Ocean and air temperatures may be impacted by changes in evaporation rates and by changes in the reflectivity and transmissibility of the ocean’s upper layer.

The drilling engineers and oil well specialists are considering pumping trash and detritus into the well in order to plug it up like a water line or a toilet. The pressures involved at the well head on the ocean’s floor and then beneath an additional 13,000 feet of rock are tremendously high and may well prevent such a solution.

If the old USSR were faced with this problem, it is a safe bet that there would be a tactical nuclear device on-site by now, ready to attempt blasting the well shut. And such an attack might just work. The jokes about “green glass” are based upon physical reality at nuclear detonation sites. But such an attack might not work. It might simply blow the well’s structure further open. We don’t know, we can’t say. We don’t want to irradiate the Gulf of Mexico. We don’t want to release a plume of radiological particulates into the Gulf Stream to add to the potential for ecological damage. We don’t want to introduce dirty, long-lived isotopes into the seafood food chain or inadvertently sterilize those species that breed in Gulf waters.

Of course, a small nuclear device might be powerful enough to ignite the oil dispersed in the water column. That would also create a fallout plume that could cause Floridians to glow in the dark. Such an attempt at closing the well might generate enough unwanted and truly bad side effects to make the statement,” This may be the oil industry’s Chernobyl,” all too true.

It is frightening, to say the least, that I’m suggesting that a nuclear device may be needed to end this oil leak. But I’m willing to bet that BP’s experts haven’t had the same thoughts, that the Pentagon is looking at a nuclear option, and that someone has feelers out to some old Cold War planners. I hope I’m wrong.

BTW, there were missiles in Red Square for the Victory Day celebration.  Troops from nations who supported the USSR as allies, including the U.S. Army's 2/18th Infantry Regiment marched in the parade for the first time. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

9 May 2010 Fill the freezer while you can

9 May 2010 Fill the freezer while you can

Sea food, when I was growing up in the land-locked Mid West/low prairie/Ozarks, was more an oxymoron than people today can imagine.

The average restaurant, the type most families could afford, offered catfish in some form and fried shrimp. The shrimp were usually served with tartar and cocktail sauce. The catfish was served with lemon and tartar sauce. Both were often fried to the point of being useful to drive nails.

While coastal-dwelling Americans had access to all manner of fresh or frozen seafood, the fish counters in small cities and towns didn’t exist. Aqua-culture had not made its way into the heartland. It was only after I was stationed in Phoenixville PA that I first saw a decent fish market and, at that point, had too little revenue to afford what it sold.

By the time I graduated university I’d been exposed to some decent seafood by eating at Chinese restaurants. It was not until the 80’s that I was fortunate enough to return to the Atlantic coast on business trips that included being taken out to dinner at real seafood restaurants. About the same time “Red Lobster” made its way into the region. People who grew up with access to real fish/seafood markets can’t begin to imagine how much an improvement “Red Lobster” offered to people who wanted better seafood menus.

It looks like we may see a wide-spread reduction in menu variety and quality at fish restaurants. The unchecked oil spill in the Gulf is, quite possibly, going to return us to the menus of m youth; the only seafood we’ll have much of will be farm-raised catfish and farm-raised shrimp. China may continue to export seafood to other nations but the lack of quality control in other Chinese products makes me extremely reluctant to trust any seafood imported from China. We have, in fact, stopped buying any seafood that has been caught or processed by/in China. I don’t know that I can bring myself to trust their quality assurance in any shellfish.

One thing’s for certain, Seafood is going to become a less common item on our table and a rare meal out of the house. Thank, Halliburton.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

8 May 2010 Break, of sorts

8 May 2010 Break, of sorts

A beautiful day in the mountains, the temperature topped out at 76°F and light breezes kept the bugs down.

The productive portion of the day was spent with a string trimmer and a riding mower. I have new bruises from stones thrown by the trimmer. The riding mower is back in service after copious lubrication on the blade pulley bearings restored their function.

Tonight will be clear and chilly. Dinner is franks and beans.

It’s a good day to take stock of how good life can be. Dog’s in her haven and all’s right…

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

7 May 2010 Round up the usual suspects

7 May 2010 Round up the usual suspects

Halliburton May Be Culprit In Oil Rig Explosion

Huffington Post First Posted: 04-30-10 10:43 AM
Updated: 04-30-10 03:59 PM

“Giant oil-services provider Halliburton may be a primary suspect in the investigation into the oil rig explosion that has devastated the Gulf Coast, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Though the investigation into the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon site is still in its early stages, drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the "cementing" process -- that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon.”

Somehow, the thought that Halliburton may be at fault for this does not surprise me at all. They are the same company that is, in the end, responsible for the electrocution of at least 18 U.S. service personnel in shoddily constructed showers. Halliburton subsidiary KB&R was responsible for the construction and wiring, which was, no doubt, further sub-contracted to local low-bidders using labor pool workers no longer available to question.

There is still an on-going investigation concerning this matter. But Halliburton will not be held responsible and will not be stripped of its lucrative, no-bid, services contracts. They are one of few corporations that control the services industries for industrial support. And they are too well entrenched and too well connected.

“Could the Gulf oil disaster be Halliburton's fault?

By David Gewirtz
May 6, 2010, 8:07am PDT”

“So where’s Halliburton fit in with all this? It turns out, it was Halliburton’s job to cement the deepwater drilling hole where all the oil’s coming out of. There’s a lot of science here, but the gist of it is that cement is a key part of the process, sealing up the hole for part of the drilling process.

If the cement were to fail, the hole would have a hole.

This is apparently what happened off the coast of Australia about a year ago. There was a major blowout in the Timor Sea and Halliburton has been accused of performing a poor cement job.”

The Australian oil leak investigation documents Halliburton as being responsible for failure in the cementing process. This seems to be a primary possibility for the reason our Gulf shores are now being coated with oil and our seafood industry is rapidly becoming unemployed. Depending on ocean currents and hurricane season, this spill may contaminate our entire Atlantic coast as well.

Halliburton views itself as “indispensible” to our military campaigns and to many industrial clients. They have little competition and it would be hard to start up new companies to replace them. The equipment demands, and, in some instances, the technical expertise may be difficult to meet. But I’d rather our tax dollars go to new companies than to Halliburton. They are a holdover from the Bush/Cheney administration that, like Blackwater/Xe, should never have been issued a contract. The decision to use Halliburton led to the wrongful deaths of U.S. troops in a manner that should never have happened and that should never be forgotten.

If faulty work by Halliburton is the cause of this disaster, BP gets no pass. As they are the primary corporation responsible for cleaning up this mess, despite any deals that Cheney slipped them under the table about limits of responsibility, they are guilty of allowing Halliburton to do what they did in Australian waters, use inadequate and poor quality materials; cutting every conceivable corner to squeeze profits out atop an already immense paycheck. That hunt for extra pennies is path gnomic of the problem, profits trump quality every time. Halliburton’s greed, along with BP’s; mixed with Cheney’s machinations, has fouled our oceans, destroyed our shellfish, our food and sports fisheries, game and song birds, and caused untold damage to countless eco-systems and economic communities.

They, Halliburton and BP are not “too big to fail.” They need to pay for every penny of damages and every penny of cleanup. If they go under, too bad. The department of Justice had better be looking for offshore assets and accounts for Halliburton. It’s time to freeze and seize that money. Otherwise, it will be gone and Halliburton will claim they have no funds.

We’ve seen their lack of concern at the deaths of U.S. troops. How much greater their concern must be now; not at the damage they caused in Australia and may have caused here, but at getting caught, yet again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

6 May 2010 The holo deck is not ready

6 May 2010

“Twelve things the world should toss out -Computer keyboards”

Kara Swisher, born 1962, would do away with the mouse and keyboard because they are old technology. Ms. Swisher works in an industry that requires continual change but which doesn’t specify change for the better. In the high tech computer industry any change that generates sales is acceptable, any that doesn’t gets ignored.

We do use old tech to enter data into our digital files. We do what we have always done, cause a physical action to create, convey, and store information. Whether it was a cave painting or it is a power point slide projected onto a screen, it begins and ends with the physical aspect.

Yes, the mouse is 50 years old and the keyboard much older. But they work and they can be replaced without need of replacing the entire system.

She cites touch screens as replacement candidates for the mouse. I’ve used touch screens for decades. Clinical lab instruments have used them for input nearly as long as I can recall. Desk top and notebook computers use them today. The prices seem to be about where the high end units normally run. I’m sure they will come down in price. I see mixed reviews on the screens.

I know from experience using clinical analyzers that I can enter data much more rapidly on a real keyboard than I can on an alpha-numeric touch screen. I also know that I can use a mouse or touch pad quite effectively. My experience with computers goes back to punch cards and tape storage, so a mouse is a good tool for me.

I do not want to use a touch screen as a keyboard. The physical, tactile feel is different and would slow down my rate of entry. Whether or not I wish to use a touch screen for any other purpose would depend upon what tasks I have to accomplish.

I use my notebook for data entry, data display, reading document, word processing, and for monitoring written forums, primarily. Secondary uses include photo storage and manipulation, music storage and music playback. I don’t think that any of the primary uses would work better for me if I gave up the keyboard and mouse for a touch screen. The secondary functions, graphics driven work, could possibly benefit from a change. But when I say secondary, I mean secondary. I very rarely bother to view video files on-line and even less frequently do I download them. I’m text-oriented.

I see the touch screens in use on CNN and in television programs. If I were manipulating large numbers of graphics files, opening and manipulating multiple windows with data in them, I can acknowledge the superiority of touch screen function. But until my utilization patterns change, I am happy with my notebook as it is.

What I see as the future for computer use, if Ms. Swisher and colleagues are ascendant is a further widening of a generational gap that is already too wide. I’m 62, have an adequate familiarity with the English language, including spelling, and prefer the less limited information flow that comes from print media to that limited by air-time availability from most video reports. I don’t appear to suffer from ADD and can spend hours reading to acquire information. I do not believe in the myth of “multi-tasking” that younger generations believe in. I fully acknowledge that adding distractions such as phone calls, e-mail, videos, streaming anything, to a writing or data compilation/interpretation task will degrade performance of all the tasks and distractions. My generation didn’t invent “multi-tasking” and we weren’t the first to do homework with music playing.

Swisher envisions the sci-fi world of 3-D hologram control panels and keyboards, the capacity to instruct computers by voice command, and projected touch screens to receive input and instruction. It’s a great vision. I read about it in my youth and, most probably, the people who wrote what I read, read something similar in their youth. Imagination is a great tool. But we built our first nuclear reactors and weapons, planned and constructed fabulous aircraft and ships, and sent people to the moon and safely back using rudimentary computers but also pencils and slide rules. The old technology works, and its far quieter.

If Swisher’s ideas mature and drive the next input engineering, we may wind up with rooms filled with people wired to the server, using goggles as monitors, talking to no visible person while they wave their hands and arms around to connect with no visible item. It isn’t that unlikely; we’ve already seen prototypes and if the package can be made cosmetically appealing, the younger generations will trip over their selves in their rush to buy it.

I’m content to use a keyboard that I can touch, that has tactile character, and to do one task at a time. After all, that’s what even the fastest computers do.