Saturday, July 31, 2010

31 July 2010 Will they interrogate the Koran before burning it

31 July 2010 Will they interrogate the Koran before burning it

“CNN) -- In protest of what it calls a religion "of the devil," a nondenominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to host an "International Burn a Quran Day" on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The Dove World Outreach Center says it is hosting the event to remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam. With promotions on its website and Facebook page, it invites Christians to burn the Muslim holy book at the church from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times," Pastor Terry Jones told CNN's Rick Sanchez earlier this week.

Jones wrote a book titled "Islam is of the Devil," and the church sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase.

Muslims and many other Christians -- including some evangelicals -- are fighting the initiative.

The church launched a YouTube channel to disseminate its messages.

"I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As they're on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?" Jones asks in one of his YouTube posts.

"No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil."

The years spent living in Florida made me acutely aware of the high level of fundamentalist Christianity that exists there. Of course, Florida is not alone in having such populations of supposedly peaceful Christians. This is merely a sad example of how twisted religion has become.

The television interview with Terry Jones showed him saying that he guessed 1.5 billion Moslems, world-wide, might take offense at his planned action. Then he rapidly followed up with a claim that since he did not believe the Koran, he didn’t care if he offended Moslems. The interviewer tried hard to express his disbelief and concern, to no avail.

This level of hatred should disturb every citizen of America. It is a blatant display of the depths of ignorance and religion-fueled bigotry that is becoming prevalent in our nation. There is no real difference in the rabid fundamentalism of any religion. All the fundamentalists are of the opinion that they are directed by a deity to behave the way they do. The rabid Christians insistence that they are directed to convert the world is no different than that of rabid Moslems. Both cults deny women full admission to the religion and to daily life, often deny them education. Both cults view all other religions as infidels, non-believers, or pagans. The fools at this church in Florida are no better than the Taliban of Afghanistan.

The depth of ignorance, the willingness to blame all inhumane and all witless behavior upon some line of text written by a malcontented cult member over a thousand years ago is equally used to justify suicide bombings, clinic shootings and bombings, and suppression of women here and in the Af-Pak region and Middle East. The practice of burning religious books is as hateful and as wrong today as it was in Nazi Germany. The mindset of the perpetrators is equally demonstrative of the participants’ willingness to violate any social contract they care to.

In the United States, such action is a direct statement that the perpetrators believe the 1st Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, and religion only apply to Christians and that the leaders of this action would have little regret with the loss of the 1st Amendment if it resulted in a Christian-run theocracy. Yet it remains hard to convince most people of the seriousness of this action and others.

The next Presidential election will likely involve right wing fundamentalists. One of the probable people seeking the GOP nomination has already stated he favors changing our Constitution to make it compatible with a centuries-old translation of the Christian bible. He believes women must be subservient to men in all matters. Yet he attacks Moslems for their oppression of women in daily life.

Another is so poorly versed in science and so deeply immersed in fundamentalist Christianity that she believes in witchcraft as a possible attack upon her candidacy. She also believes that humans and dinosaurs shared the surface of the planet simultaneously.

Yet another belongs to a cult that mandates wearing special underwear and still has sub-sects that support polygamy. But there is such division among Christian cult members that many of the other sects don’t consider him to be Christian at all. This seems little different than the internecine conflicts among Moslems or among the Roman and Orthodox Catholic sects.

Even more disturbing is the seeming lack of regret at displaying lack of education, lack of intellect, and lack of understanding that no religion conveys any right to subjugate or disenfranchise any other.

The current anti-Moslem activity in the U.S. is very troubling. The decision by the GOP propaganda machine to stir up religious hatred is going to have far reaching effects. This extension of the GOP’s southern strategy allows the propagandists to add religion to the constellation of bigotry, racism, intellectual achievement/education, and progressivism that they have used to lure the Southern voters since the days of Richard Nixon. Currently they are pumping up the fear of an invasion by Moslems bent upon forcing Sharia law upon the U.S. legal system.

I’m far more afraid of a Christian theocratic attempt than I am a Moslem theocratic attempt. Moslem immigrants have often had the experience of living in a theocracy and have voted against it by leaving for other nations. The Christians who are pushing toward theocracy do so because they want to limit the actions of non-Christians and of other sects of Christians in order to curry favor with a deity and to control the political environment. They want to intrude their sect’s beliefs upon all our citizens and force anyone believing differently to alter their lives or leave. The Inquisition was not that long ago and there are many good journals that describe all too well how vicious “peaceful, peace-loving Christians” can be when they have theocratic power.

The Florida demagogue will rant about the brutality of Sharia law. He seems willing to overlook the tortures of the Inquisition, the heresy examinations, witchcraft interrogations and trials, the crushings, drownings, burnings at the stake, hanging-drawing-quartering favored by the gentle followers of Christ in the aim of purifying the faith and preventing independent thought, learning by the populations, and women acting as full citizens. Show me that we’ve progressed beyond the bestial behavior of “men of gods” in the Dark and Middle Ages. We had the opportunity during the enlightenment when we founded a nation and tried to keep religion and fools out of government. Both are well entrenched in government now and with every demonstration of our collective failure to banish religion from government we edge closer to becoming no different in nature from the targets of our carefully scripted national paranoia.

Friday, July 30, 2010

30 July 2010 Shove another regiment back through the meat-grinder

30 July 2010 Shove another regiment back through the meat-grinder

Impact of past defense cuts should warn of risks

By Max Boot

Friday, July 30, 2010

“The prospect of an exit from Iraq and Afghanistan has sparked rumblings on Capitol Hill that it's time to cut the defense budget. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says, "I'm pretty certain cuts are coming -- in defense and the whole budget." Defense Secretary Bob Gates is already pushing to cancel some big-ticket programs and to wring savings out of the existing budget.

If there were ever evidence that it's impossible to learn from history -- or at least that it's difficult for politicians to do so -- this is it. Before they rush to cut defense spending, lawmakers should consider the consequences of previous attempts to cash in on a "peace dividend."

The column is heavy on numbers. The thrust of the column is valid. In seeking to stop funding war-sized armies and navies, we have historically cut our military to the bone and left it unable to repair or replace aging and badly worn hardware from the smallest hand guns to the most technically advanced weapons platforms. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, & marines acquire and maintain proficiency at their trade by repeated and demanding cycles of training. There are no substitutes for training and that training must be realistic. While some simulator time can be invaluable, nothing replaces the actual hands-on down in the dirt, up in the sky, or under the oceans operational training that takes our troops out into harm’s way and brings them back safely when possible.

Our current armed forces were pared back after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The ability to maintain two major conflicts and a third brush-fire action is gone. We’re spread too thinly and all our potential enemies know it. We lack the naval forces to project power in distant nations as we could once. Our carrier battle groups and the fleet elements needed for independent actions have simply been worn out, phased out of service to cut costs, or declared unnecessary by a congress and an electorate that have never worn the nation’s uniforms or heard shots fired in anger.

Those volunteer troops we still fund are being used up and discarded at a hellish rate. They cycle from one combat tour to another with no decompression time, too little time to re-equip and to train up, and the certainty that they will be facing the same miserable job for as long as they are in our armed forces. Between tired troops and tired equipment, layer in tired and ineffectual tactics, campaigns with no victory markers, no territory won or held. It is a thankless job done by a few volunteers for a citizenry that thinks that only rejects and drop-outs join the armed forces.

Since the demise of the Soviets and the down-grading of their client armies our troops have undergone the post Cold War reduction in forces and the post Desert Storm depletion. Despite these, the Bush/Cheney administration decided to engage in two foreign wars and a lot of saber rattling. Since they neglected to fund these adventures there was no way to increase the number of available combatants to a realistic level. So the too-few troops we have are being pumped from battlefield to battlefield, like raw meat being ground ever smaller and spread more thinly. Our enemies see. Our troops see and pay the butchers’ bill; there and after they return.

If we are going to pretend we have the power to police a large part of the world, we’d better begin taking better care of our troops, and of the expensive tools they need to hold up their end of the bargain they made with a nation that has never managed to learn and recall how few and how precious those battalions, squadrons, and ships’ crews truly are.

I’m not worried about the right wing’s “invasion of Islamic fundamentalists”; I’m not worried about mutiny in the ranks of our troops. I am worried that in the near future they may decide that if no one else values them enough to treat them well, they might as well stop pretending the nation cares about them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

29 July 2010 you just pick up the cell phone and make a call.

29 July 2010 you just pick up the cell phone and make a call.

The network extender arrived yesterday at about 1530. It took about an hour to unpack it, read the user guide, and hook it up. By1700 we had received text messages on both phones and actually placed phone calls with each phone. All this happened inside the house, in what was previously a dead zone. The major rooms of the house all seem to be usable with cell phones. Imagine, all we have to do is punch in some numbers and, like magic, we can talk to people. What will they think of next?

Battery drain may be a new problem to deal with. I left my phone on overnight and woke up to a low battery indicator after about 6 hours of non-use. Gloria’s phone was turned off overnight and came up with a full charge indicator. Managing battery life may also depend upon how distant the phones are from the network extender. 25 feet may make a huge difference with this system. We can, I suppose, leave them plugged in to charge and use blue-tooth head sets to overcome rapid drain.

We know, now, that the connection via network extender drops off rapidly with distance from the unit. I found no sustainable connection in our yard today or while standing at Mike’s driveway after this morning’s hike with Mike.

Bad Neighbor’s dogs were not seen this morning but evidence of their continued existence appeared in-between leaving and returning from the hike. More troubling, was the re-appearance of a red pit bull that is part of a pack belonging to someone down valley. This dog was wandering loose, contesting any passage by pedestrians along a section of road. Loki’s presence seemed to increase its aggressive behavior. At one point, we thought an attack likely and Mike was ready to take preventive action if necessary. This dog is one of a pack that periodically escapes its boundaries, or worse, is let loose by another careless owner.

The increasing number of pit bulls in the area is disturbing. In many cases, the dogs are kept tied outside and are un-socialized. While I’m not advocating doggy psychiatry, a breed developed for fighting and then mis-treated will quickly revert to type when it escapes and/or becomes part of a pack roaming and hunting for food. The aggressive behavior seems to be wanted by people who have some reason to wish to discourage visitors or who distrust the intentions of their neighbors. We, on the other hand, welcome Loki’s ability to and willingness to keep us alerted if people happen by. Attacking them, however, is not in her job description.

I’m fairly confident that if I took binoculars and a camera along on the morning walks. I’d be surprised at what I discovered taking place. I’m also confident that I would stir up more anger and suspicion than I want to deal with. We have a small and well-maintained arsenal. The defining word is “small.” For other residents, the defining word is “arsenal.” Discretion and careful non-observation while walking past the property of other residents is highly recommended.

We’ve had several days of low 90’s temperature, high humidity, and widely scattered pop-up thunderstorms. We’ve received bursts of rain but not enough to measure the rainfall. The drive home from Greeneville today was amazing. Grocery shopping and pharmacy pickups overcome even the most carefully emptied calendar.

We had large expanses of open terrain filled with views of haze shrouded mountains, seeming to rise up in a long line from nearly level ground. I know that the terrain in the outer chains is amazingly steep. When we cross the creek behind us, there is an abrupt valley wall that takes off at nearly 90 degrees of angle upward.

The squirrels have stopped tormenting Loki for the moment. She lays on the floor watching the bird feeders for their approach and then goes ballistic. Once in a while, just to prevent the squirrels feeling that they are smarter than all dogs, we let her out to chase them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

28 July 2010 Beautiful state ugly people

28 July 2010 Beautiful state ugly people

Director, Islamic Studies, U. of Delaware Muqtedar Khan Associate professor, political science and international relations; Fellow of the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding

“Sharia is based on Ten Commandments

“There is an emerging preemptive anti-Sharia movement in America as manifest by an Oklahoma legislator who is seeking to introduce a bill that will ban Sharia law in his state. Lt. Gov of Tennessee Ron Ramsey claimed recently that Islam was not even a religion and so Muslims should be exempted from the protections of the First Amendment. More and more Americans are beginning to think of Islamic religion as something to be feared and rejected.”

The greatest benefit from this column will be found in the readers comments. They are the frightening part, as always.

I don’t agree with the entire premise in this article. While all religions tend to borrow from prior works, Sharia draws from other sources as surely as do Christianity and Judaism. Single source inspirations discovered by unlettered nomadic figureheads are entirely too convenient and the comparison offered here is the work of a religious legalist, not the careful construction of some long-ago prophet.

What is evident is the author’s intellect. Compare that with the decidedly un-learned utterances by Tennessee Lt. Governor Ramsey. Ramsey responded to a question by an equally un-learned supporter at a campaign appearance by declaring Islam a cult, not a religion, and indicating that it might be a nationality. He then went on to all but call for the removal of civil rights from Americans of Islamic faith.

Tennessee, like many Appalachian and southern states, has an unfortunate reputation for having poorly educated citizens of limited intellect and bigoted natures. The current election cycle has brought this depiction to the foreground. Ramsey’s campaign ads that are playing in N.E. TN, the incredibly beautiful portion of the state, are calculated to appeal to the poorly educated, unemployed, anti-intellectual, rural inhabitant. He attacks directly, not by innuendo, immigrants. By intentional slur, he attacks the U.S. government, non-Christians, progressives, who might vote for gun control, for abortion, and for universal health care, public education, and other matters that the GOP has traditionally opposed.

Ramsey has categorized Moslems as un-American, demanded that they drum others out of their faith, and continually pushes hatred of outsiders as a campaign plank. I see his television ads, read comments he made that are quoted in the local newspaper, and it is easy to see the danger he represents. He calls himself the “real conservative.” Translate that as white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant and you begin to see that stupidity, bigotry, racism, and intolerance are still valid campaign planks in the un-reconstructed “old South.” The GOP has played to this voter base since Nixon’s days. Reagan made it into a tradition. Today, it is just as ugly as when George Wallace carried the banner of “conservatism in the South.” Wallace, at least, was honest about his bigotry; while Ramsey has an ad agency and professional liars to cloak his message in words that let the voter pretend that he/she is voting for financial and political principles rather than voting to pretend that the Confederacy was morally correct, that a century of segregation was justified, and that the South should become a theocracy, ruled by the professionally incompetent, morally bankrupt, educationally-lacking.

I am seriously considering declaring myself to be a Republican in order to vote against Ramsey in the primary this week. But I won’t do that. Ramsey is running last in a three-way race. I’d like to know that my fellow citizens of Tennessee have the intellect and morality that can bring them to vote against Ramsey. November is another tale to be told.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

27 July 2010 Only 90 today but it feels much cooler

27 July 2010 Only 90 today but it feels much cooler

Lest I forget, happy birthday, David Rutstein!

That’s right. An afternoon high of 90° F at 1520 with a current relative humidity of 40%. This dryer air combined with an intermittent breeze provided sufficient promise of getting through the outdoor chores without becoming a puddle of butter around a flag pole. Armored in long pants, a fishing shirt designed for tropical climes, and the knowledge that any pause in today’s chores would result in them being dumped, I set out to do battle with the yard.

The first major chore was to add two bags of softener salt pellets to the well filters. Then it was time to remove multiple locust and other opportunistic saplings that have taken up residence. With the loppers out, it seemed appropriate to remove a bunch of eye-height branches in the back yard. Then the widow-maker in the hickory-like tree in front had to be coaxed down to ground level. The next high wind might have done it, or it might have created enough stress on the branches holding it up to fall at a most inopportune time. It’s grounded now but spared from the chainsaw for a while yet.

During this time, Gloria decided to de-fur the dog. Loki shed enough hair in a week to build a new dog. Brushing her hind quarters is, for some reason, a two person job that brings us as close to her being angry as we’ve ever seen her. We won today, mostly.

The riding mower worked as designed but the vibration from a one-cylinder engine is hard on my shoulders. The string trimmer also started right up and functioned well. By the time I finished trimming, I had a unique and unwanted series of muscle contractions, jerks, tics, and tremors going on that make it hard to do anything requiring my left hand and arm, and only slightly more function in the right hand and arm.

Outside chores accomplished four pounds or so sweated away.

After a shower, laundry begins. Dinner will be bratwurst and beans or potatoes of some sort.

It was an extremely short night; hopefully I’ll sleep better tonight. I think that once I stop moving, I’ll be unlikely to begin again.

Tomorrow the network extender should arrive. Hopefully the install won’t be futile. We’ll see.

Monday, July 26, 2010

26 July 2010 Send in the towers

26 July 2010 Send in the towers

The network extender will be here ca. Wednesday.

Tomorrow is designated as mow and trim day. Left over time will be used to cut up fallen branches.

Two mile walk this morning allowed me to download one ring tone.

Short conversation with Verizon tech support apprised me of things that should be boldly printed on the literature that goes with every phone.

Gloria had her 2nd synthetic synovial fluid injection this afternoon. The trip took us by a new restaurant, Babylon Café, opened by Iraqi refugees. The food was good. We’ll go back next week for another meal.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

25 July 2010 nearly a day off

25 July 2010 nearly a day off

Tired, spent too much time fussing with technology

Leftovers for dinner.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

24 July 2010 There’s an icon there? Really?

24 July 2010 There’s an icon there? Really?

The new phones powered up nicely, showed at least minimum level bars, and refused to activate. A call to Verizon customer service was equally ineffective. At 1600 on Friday afternoon I left for Greeneville and the nearest Verizon store. While waiting to be helped I managed to activate one phone. The CSR looked at both and assured me that they were both activated. I made it home slightly after 1700 with two phones needing to be recharged.

Several attempted calls, made standing at a window with a phone showing service were eventually dropped. En route to retrieve the morning’s paper, I watched my phone drift in and out of service while walking the ca. 75 meters to the mail box. I tried twice to establish voice mail and finally drove two miles to make contact. I wound up activating my phone once more before I could create a voice mail message.

Currently I’m waiting on three txt messages from various sources to be recovered and downloaded into my phone. Two of them are to allow me to complete downloads of free ring tones. One, perhaps two more, should have been delivered from Verizon at initial power-up. Instead, I now have to wait on U.S. Mail to deliver two number strings that will allow me to complete registration with Verizon.

Gloria and I have decided that we’ll try the home cellular boost unit Verizon offers. It’s frustrating to be paying for the technology and to not be able to use it. Of course, if we want to drive several miles each day just to retrieve possible messages and find out what calls we missed, we’re in a perfect location to do that.

In the interim, I’m setting up my phone as much as possible, as I want it to be. I don’t need the throw-away games packed into it. I will need larger capacity micro-SD cards. I found the icon glossary finally. Unfortunately, most of the icons are nearly microscopic in size. I’ve spent so much effort trying to see what might be appearing on a small screen that I feel almost like I’m back at a lab bench, looking for diagnostic markers for amoeba. I suspect that I will never see most of these icons in actual use.

I spent an hour or so last night copying contact information from the old phone to the new. This morning I discovered that I had input our land line number incorrectly. It’s easy to miss a key on a slide out keyboard the size of half a deck of playing cards. I don’t see myself engaging in much texting. Of course, since we pay for each message, there is strong incentive not to use text messaging at all.

Today’s dinner will be chicken prepared tandoori style over charcoal, saffron rice, cucumber raita, cilantro & Major Gray’s chutneys.

Again, Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, July 23, 2010

23 July 2010 Unrealistic expectations in the valley or Hooked on phone X

23 July 2010 Unrealistic expectations in the valley or Hooked on phone X

We are currently awaiting the arrival of two phones from Verizon; hoping against all evidence to the contrary that we will be able to pick up a carrier signal here at the edge of Tennessee. They will not be activated and if we can’t pick up a tower, we will most likely have to drive to Greeneville in order to have them activated. Pain in the ass, to be sure. More so, in light of the fact that there was a slightly available contact on the Verizon phones we had when we moved in in 2006. Shabby treatment by a local Verizon store added to minimal service here ended that arrangement with Verizon and sent us on a search for home and local coverage that we have yet to achieve.

The apparent necessity of having cell phones has become far more important than we ever expected. Buying a phone that is only a phone almost certainly provides one with the lowest probability of connectivity for the money. The driving market demographic is no longer middle-aged adults but teens and young adults who have grown up without ever having lived without cellular phones. What was once an expensive business tool sometimes used for personal safety is now an item that all age groups under 60 seem to consider essential for daily life.

Cell phones have replaced or have been merged with, phones ( obviously), music players, USB storage devices, cameras, GPS systems, notebooks, calendars, calculators, web browsers, radios, televisions, watches, and a list of items that I can’t even begin to think of.

I don’t play video games, stream music, video, or carry photographs around with me. What music I might want is already loaded on an MP3 player. I see no reason to use battery time to listen to downgraded music. I don’t like music videos so screen size is more about reading the numbers and letters with aging eyes than about watching any sort of video. I still put on a wrist watch as an integral part of my morning routine. I don’t think about carrying a phone instead. A phone, to me, is still primarily a phone. That is, if I can connect to a tower.

There is something I want to do with this new phone, if possible. I would like to download some endangered species sounds to use as ringtones. Damaged hearing means that I need to have the volume levels set high up the range in order for me to hear the phone ring. I find popular music ring tones obnoxious, as people let them play for intolerable lengths of time while they dig in purses or coats to find them and see who is calling or messaging them. I’d rather use something that most people can’t identify in situations where it is my turn to be obnoxious.

There is a huge list of everyday items and tools that have evolved or appeared during the short span of my life to date. It may be amusing to explore this list if I can do it with including any of the “If you grew up when” lists that circulate the web.

Today, phones only. My earliest memories of phones include a wooden box on the wall with a crank to summon the operator, separate ear and mouthpieces, and a party line. Forward to a black handset wired to a central switchboard in a private home. Summon operator by pushing the disconnect switch rapidly and asking for an alpha-numeric combination. Oakland 97654. Connections were all hard wired and most lines were party lines. At age 5 dial phones appeared, and then area codes became necessary. After dial tones, touch tone sets, still wired to house jacks. Follow on to wireless handsets and then cell phones that were the size of shoe boxes. Now over half the population has a phone that equals or exceeds Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist TV. Many people no longer have land lines, hard wired to the network. We’re still atavistic enough to keep our land line. Lots of reasons for that including difficulty in obtaining cell connections without paying for satellite phone coverage.

Shabbat Shalom – stay cool this weekend.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

22 July 2010 Low Tech High Tech Phone Tech

22 July 2010 Low Tech High Tech Phone Tech

Today we looked at purchasing a pair of smart phones. The contract and necessary data packages would actually double what we are currently paying for next to no service. We ruled out the high tech approach. We don’t stream video, play on-line games, maintain social network sites, text instead of talk, or use phones to plan and carry our lives. We do, sometimes, use them to talk with each other or some other person.

We finally discovered a Samsung touch screen phone that can be used to communicate by voice and which does not require a high end data package. The provider, Verizon, was quite willing to sell us the phones and assure us that we would, most likely, get reception here in the valley at the end of Tennessee. Since they phones are to arrive tomorrow by Fed-Ex, we will see if we have phone service tomorrow.

These phones are sort of not-quite-so-smart, I guess. They seem to be designed more for downloading what might be call music than for any other purpose. I’ve no intention of streaming music casts or paying to download music to listen to in MP3 format. The reviews are mixed, some love it, some hate it, some reviewers can spell, and too many reviewers can’t spell. Are cell phones degrading American literacy? That is a serious question.

We actually had five days of contract time with Nextel/Sprint remaining. When I explained that we got only the most minimal of service for our payment they assured me that they would not assess a huge early termination fee. Kind of them.

We’ve always used Motorola phones in the past. The Samsung will be a new experience. We’ve also never been able to download ringtones previously. We found a link to a site that offers endangered animal sounds to download. That could be fun.

I need to mow and trim before Monday if possible. I also need to look at finding textbooks for my history class that begins in another month. I will not order the art-history texts which cost far too much for a survey course. I’m sure that a lot of the art can be located on line if one looks carefully enough. I’d rather put in the time than the money.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

21 July 2010 Technology itches

21 July 2010 Technology itches

I have an HTC Droid Eris. The HTC incredible was more or less dubbed as its replacement. I'm also on the Verizon network.

Most everything I do on the computer I do with the phone as well. Here are the highlights:

-Texting (wife & kids), e-mail, internet browsing. The typing takes a little bit to get used to on the touch screen but after using it for a while it's a piece of cake.

-MP3 player music player. Came with a 16 GB memory card, but will accept up to 32 GB. I have about 8 GB of music downloaded on it right now.

-Acts as a jump drive/USB mass storage device. Because of the memory card I can transfer files between it and my computer.

-Views Microsoft office documents and PDF files

-Pandora radio. I plug the phone into the auxiliary port on my car stereo and I have commercial free radio wherever I go - as long as I have a cell signal. Similar to having satellite radio but without the monthly fee.

-Weather radar - 2 best apps in the droid market I have found are rain alarm and radar now. It does exactly what Scott wants.

-Built in GPS. Google Maps and Navigator with voice are top notch. I recently used it on a trip from Wisconsin to the East cost and it worked flawlessly.

-Camera - it's OK, but would never use it to replace a standard digital camera.

-Walkie- talkie - With the free TiKL program from the market your phone will work as a walkie-talkie with other friends of yours that have a droid.

Oh...and every once in a while it works as a phone.

Some of the new smart phones, HTC Evo if I remember correctly, also act as a wifi hotspot.

I have managed to avoid to the iPhone or iAnything for that matter. Never liked that fact that your chained to iTunes or Apple store. If you do some research you will find that any of the android system phones have more bells and whistles than any of the iPhones or Blackberry phones being offered right now. I had a blackberry once and hated it.

There is a lot more they can do...just ask away.

So sayeth correspondent X

Our first cell phones did nothing but make phone calls. Since then, the complexity of the tool has been increased at every turn by adding new components and capabilities to the basic tool.

My primary need is still to make phone calls at need, particularly in emergencies. I don’t want to send text messages in lieu of vocal communication. I’m decidedly in the minority.

We have 6 more days remaining on our Sprint/Nextel contract. We can make some calls from here if we stand outside or in the right window. The 30 miles we travel most offer no service. The customer service people at Sprint are rather unconcerned. We will make an attempt to find a Verizon phone or two that may work in our valley.

Today, and probably yesterday, our land line is also not functional.

Hoping for a quiet night.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20 July 2010 Hand me the chainsaw and the cell phone

20 July 2010 Hand me the chainsaw and the cell phone

Sunday’s thunder storms dropped a 3 meter branch into the front yard. Last night’s dropped a much thicker and longer branch from the same tree. The source is some sort of hickory family tree. This tree borders the front yard and is close enough to the power, phone, and cable lines to cause me concern. There is a line of thunderstorms approaching now that is announcing itself with gusty winds. Bordering the driveway on the other side of the lines is a large pine that was poorly sited when planted by the previous owners. It may be time to look for reasonable tree removal services.

Regardless of future removal, there is chainsaw work ahead. I’m approaching the target dates to have my shoulders injected again. The last waltz with the power mower left me greatly uncomfortable. Planting trees as if they would not grow seems to have been a hobby with the previous owners. Someone should have told them they get taller and wider.

There’s thunder and rain arriving now. The dog will be most unhappy.

Gloria had the first of three synthetic synovial fluid injections this afternoon. She’ll get #2 and #3 over the following weeks. I hope these provide some relief for her.

During the ride into town we discussed the inadequacies of our cell phone service. Our current phones work here, just barely. No other carrier maps even marginal coverage here. Emergency calls on other networks could require driving or walking 3 miles to get a cell phone signal. However, while our current phones eliminate that risk, they have no signal nearly all the way into Johnson City. The point in having cell phones is to cover emergencies and ours don’t cover that need in a very necessary and commonly used travel zone. We’re truly at a loss as to what to do. We actually want phones that work as telephones. They’re getting hard to find and even harder to find for our usage area.

We don’t have any current contractual phone obligations. It’s time to start looking for something that will work here and cover the travel region we use most often.

Monday, July 19, 2010

19 July 2010 Palin thinks she writes like Shakespeare

19 July 2010 Palin thinks she writes like Shakespeare

July 19, 2010

TRENDING: Palin: Ground Zero mosque an 'unnecessary provocation'

Posted: July 19th, 2010 10:33 AM ET

(CNN) – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the proposed construction of a mosque and community center near "Ground Zero," the site of the 9/11 terror attack in New York City, calling it an "unnecessary provocation."

"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts," Palin wrote in a Twitter post Sunday. "Pls reject it in interest of healing."

The former Republican vice presidential nominee also posted a plea to "peaceful New Yorkers," asking them to "pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real."

Plans to build a $100 million, 13-story center - focused on what backers describe as Islamic, interfaith and secular programming - has sparked an emotional debate.

Once again the half-term, half-wit, has shown her lack of grasp of the English language by tweeting that people should “refudiate” the mosque. Apparently someone called her out about the use of a non-word and she followed up with another tweet comparing herself to William Shakespeare in command of language. Not only does she have unwarranted political aspirations, she had managed to convince herself that her language skills are worthy of praise.

This particular bit of construction is problematic in that it does and will provide an irritant to those families who lost members in the WTC attack. That cannot and should not be denied. But the legalities and ethical concerns go far beyond bad memories and Palin’s bad grammar.

The United States Constitution, that document Palin and her Tea Party mobs swear they honor above all other documents - excepting, of course, their bibles; has this pesky little thing called the First Amendment. That bit of writing provides for freedom of speech – Palin’s right to massacre the language and spread verbal lies at will. Equally important, it prohibits the establishment of a state religion and guarantees the freedom for all Americans to practice their religion of choice or to practice no religion.

This bit of writing means that when Palin and her misinformed band of would-be-theocrats scream that “this is a Christian nation,” they are displaying for all to see and hear their lack of understanding of the Constitution. When they loudly become involved in what is a zoning matter in NYC, not a campaign plank, they are attempting to deny 1st Amendment rights to fellow Americans.

I find all religious fundamentalists to be annoying. Palin and the Christian right are acting in exactly the same manner that they claim is offensive in fundamentalist Moslems. They are attempting to intermix politics and religion, trying to prevent the free practice of religion by members of another faith. So the actions of Palin and her Face Book Fans and followers are as morally offensive and as lacking in ethics as the Taliban &/or Al Queda. They are demanding that only one religion be permitted on a portion of American soil.

If the media wants to behave as I was taught journalist should, the various news services would instantly report the legality of this mosque replacement, which is several blocks from “”Ground Zero,” under NYC codes. That is what matters. Our personal like or dislike of Islam is of no importance in this matter. What is important is apply the law, in this case 1st Amendment rights, to all Americans. The media can’t stress this strongly or often enough. Yes, the new construction will cause hurt feelings, trigger bad memories, and cause unwarranted anger. The people who attacked the WTC and Pentagon are not building this building. Law-abiding Americans are.

How would the mobs stirring up this hatred consider efforts to prevent building Christian churches near lands where Native Americans were killed by Christian immigrants? If they manage to block this construction would they then respect or deny the rights of Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and other religious groups to replace their houses of worship. Would they look for some other cause to prevent the guaranteed free practice of religion? Would they recognize the similarity, see the irony of their efforts to prevent free practice of religion? I seriously doubt it.

What most of these Tea Party mobsters and hate-mongering demagogues recall from those little copies of the Constitution which they carry around like talismans against demons from the pit, are sound-bytes or catch phrases they’ve been coached to repeat when they begin to lose arguments. Rather than admit that other people have different religious beliefs, they start screaming about a “war on Christianity.” This, while they have quite openly and vehemently launched a war on Islam.

The WTC attacks were carried out by Moslem fundamentalists, not by any single nation. No amount of international warfare is going to wipe out the fundamentalism that spawned the attacks. The animosity toward Moslem citizens of the U.S. is spawned by equally deep and equally wrong fundamental Christianity that, like its Islamic analog, wants to convert the world to its own narrow-minded and hateful brand of religion.

During the last election, Palin was frequently accused of inciting violence against Obama. Her supporters continually denied such actions on her part.

Her self-proclaimed leap into this conflict is a direct example of her efforts to circumvent the 1st Amendment to the Constitution she claims to wish to protect. Her attack upon Islam, not the criminals who high-jacked the planes, is evidence of her efforts to stir up religious hatred. She can’t deny those words, nor can her followers. They’re right there on the internet in her own bad grammar and poorly worded attempts to use the English language. To deny the hatred she’s inciting would be to admit that someone else wrote her posts for her. She seems to be incapable of admitting errors, so she must have chosen the words and mangled them herself.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

18 July 2010 How does that go again?

18 July 2010 How does that go again?

Critical information for pool upkeep

Pool sweep operation

Valves Facing filter

Left valve = tool input

Center valve = bottom drain

Right valve = skimmer

To operate pool sweep/barracuda

Plug sweep hose into pool wall connection

Open left valve completely

Close center drain completely

Open right drain 40%

To remove pool sweep, reverse positions and disconnect pool sweep from tool inlet port.

Do not allow pool sweep to hang up on liner patches.

It may not sound very important. However, incorrect valve positions may result in pump and filter damage.

Following correct use and removal of the pool sweep, we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon in the pool. We were rained upon at one point in time. There was sunshine in conjunction with the rain but due to our location, no rainbows were evident.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

17 July 2010 Icarus inverted or Birds of no feather

17 July 2010 Icarus inverted or Birds of no feather

In Hellenic mythology, the tale of Icarus flight from Crete deals with man’s wish to fly like birds, with no external power source but one’s arms. Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son in order that they might escape Minos, the ruler of Crete.

In the myth, Icarus ignored his father’s instruction to keep to moderate altitude. Like pilots of all eras, the lure of altitude pulled him from the safety zone specified by the design and construction of his wings. The resultant materials failure left him suddenly aware that he was guilty of exceeding design specs, and involved in history’s first recorded pilot error, or PFU.  As with many young pilots, he was guilty of living fast and leaving behind a beautiful corpse.

Notice the bevy of bare-breasted young women at his wake. He departed this plane of existence in a manner that would satisfy many test pilots down through aviation history.

Now the game has changed markedly. From the pursuit of ever faster, high-reaching aircraft of phenomenal speed and power, requiring on-board pilots with lightning-fast reflexes; the goal has become slower, feather-light, long-endurance craft that feed off the sun and leave no sonic booms, contrails, or pollution.

Instead of avoiding the sun, the chains are off and the goal is no longer speed but sustainable flight at altitudes above the clouds. The higher these featherless craft can fly the more power they can absorb. We are seeing quantum changes in aircraft design and function. UAV’s will likely become the primary combat aircraft, sparing pilot lives but lessening the glory of previous air combat. The ability to program loiter time and upload mission changes from half a world away to gossamer craft that don’t require on-board crew opens up new ways to use aircraft in military and civil purposes.

Up in the air, Junior Birdmen.

Unmanned solar plane smashes records

By Matthew Knight, for CNN

July 17, 2010 8:10 a.m. EDT

QinetiQ's "Zephyr" aircraft has been in the air for seven days smashing all previous records for unmanned flight.

London, England (CNN) -- An unmanned solar aircraft has smashed the world record for continuous flight.

The "Zephyr" plane, developed by UK defense technology company, QinetiQ, took off from the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona on July 9. Seven days on, it was still flying high.

The British MOD project produced a featherweight aircraft with amazing design specs.” Zephyr is a UAV that can carry communications modules and imaging modules. The example cited is a plane fitted with thermal sensors and radio relays to aid fire fighters in mountainous and poorly accessible terrain. Obviously military application modules are in design status. The extreme loiter time demonstrated by keeping Zephyr aloft for a week has tremendous possibilities in searching for lost humans, support for ground missions, and other recon and communication possibilities.

Design specs call for a working altitude of 60,000 feet. The UAV configuration does away with the need for heavy and expensive life support systems that would be necessary for a pilot at such altitudes.

Weighing just 53 kilograms (117 pounds), the plane has a wingspan of 22.5 meters (74 feet) and a wing area of around 30 square meters (323 square feet), the top side of which is covered in solar panels thinner than a sheet of paper. The panels are rigged up to lithium-sulphur batteries which power the plane at night.

Also in the air this week, Impulse.

Solar Impulse carries a live pilot, and is Solar Impulse, is much heavier and larger in all dimensions.

 “Solar Impulse has a wingspan of more than 206 feet (63 meters) -- the same as an Airbus A340 -- and is nearly 72 feet (22 meters) long. It weighs about 3,500 pounds (1,600 kilograms) and has nearly 12,000 solar cells attached to its wings and horizontal stabilizers.
The plane is equipped with four electric engines and has a top speed of about 43 miles (70 kilometers) per hour. It has been piloted to an altitude of nearly 28,000 feet (8,500 meters).

Helios, NASA research craft

HELIOS - technical data
Wing span: 75,3 m
Length: 3,6 m
Wing thickness: 0.3 m
Height: 2 m, without upper blades of the propellers
Wing area: 186.6 m2
Mass: 600 kg - unloaded plane
Allowed mass: up to 930 kg, depends on flight purpose and available energy.
Cargo: up to 330 kg, depends on measurement equipment weight.
Propulsion: 14 DC brushless electric motors (the power of each motor is 1,5 kW) with two blades, specially designed for high altitude flights. The weight of each motor is less than 5 kg. Length of both propeller blades is 1,7 m.
Energy source: Bifacial solar cells - dimensions 1.25" x 2.75" (Front side efficiency 22 %, backside efficiency 11 %) placed on transparent wings. Energy source in the dark are lithium batteries. Fuel cells will be used as main energy source in the dark in the future.
Speed: Typical flight speed is 30 to 40 km/h. The highest speed is 270 km/h.
Flight height: Maximal flight height is 30000 m - typical height depends on flight mission and it is typical 15000 to 22000 m.
Flight: The anticipated autonomy in the future together with fuel cells will reach for uninterrupted flights (several months of autonomy).
Materials: All main parts of the plane are made of carbon fibres and styrofoam. Wings are covered with special designed and produced plastic sheet.

In the future, such planes will also be used for interesting research purposes and missions, such as:
Fly through the volcano for the purposes of volcano plume study
Fly over the North and South Poles
Fly for weeks and months at a time collecting scientific data, which varies according to the sun position or the season of the year
Explore conditions on Mars

More than 60,000 high efficiency (22.5% at AM 1.5) solar cells produced by SunPower Corporation were used as an energy source for HELIOS. The peak power of solar cell array was approximately 30 kW. The total costs for HELIOS solar cells reached around US$ 9 million (200 US$/W). HELIOS was equipped with 14 propeller motors, which were purposely designed for use in very thin air on high altitudes. HELIOS' wings (in fact, there's only one wing) were longer than wings of a Boeing 747 or a Lockheed C-5 military transport plane.

Helios in Hawaii

Depicted is the historical development of NASA’s workable solar planes from Pathfinder to Helios.

Friday, July 16, 2010

16 July 2010 Another nap may be in order. No such luck

16 July 2010 Another nap may be in order.

More sleep last night and no appointments today.

Hike with Mike took place in 89% humidity at 80-88 degrees. It was quite wonderful to return to the world of air conditioning.

Gloria is celebrating her release from post-op restriction by driving to Greeneville for meds and by stopping in at Lowes.

I stayed home to wait for mail. The fill-in carrier dropped everything off on the bottom step of the front deck, outside overhead cover. I’m guessing that he’s the one who didn’t bother to bring the certified package Monday, leaving it at the branch office but leaving a notice as if he’d knocked on the door to make a delivery. I’ll talk to the regular carrier before making waves. It is inadvisable to piss off a mail carrier out here.

The oil spill seems to be on hold. I’m hearing all manner of BS from the right wingers claiming that Obama ignored the event and some even claiming he caused it. Unless the federal government had nationalized all the oil fields and means of production I don’t understand how it was supposed to put equipment and expertise up against the blowout.

It ‘s comical and sad to hear the people who were screaming most loudly about “not wanting government interference” and “states rights” demanding that they be bailed out from the effects of laissez-faire capitalism. The BP blowout is a shining example of a free market corporation, unleashed from almost all regulation and oversight, cutting corners and disregarding all safety guidelines in order to save a day or two’s expenses. The couple of millions they hoped to save look rather insignificant against the approximate 40 billion dollars they are probably on the hook for now.

The political divide is becoming ever wider with the Tea Party mobs demonstrating truly ugly race-based hatred that I haven’t seen demonstrated on this scale since the 1960’s. There is no hope of any real bi-partisan work coming out of Congress in the next two years. The GOP trades in one lie after another. None of them should be believable but the mob and the blue collar unemployed, largely swallow them whole. I fail to understand how anyone can be convinced to vote for tax cuts for the wealthy while not seeing that their own incomes and benefits will be gutted to make up for the loss in revenue to the nation.

At the same time, the GOP is now trying to blame the Afghanistan war on Obama. Granted, he dithered around and then ramped up our participation. But that war began in 2001. The Democrats are hopelessly fragmented and unwilling to unite behind anything but the safest measures. Representatives spend hours debating the intent of biblical excerpts as if these should be considered in writing national law.

Every local candidate’s literature that I have read makes some reference to which church they attend. Some invoke the name “Jesus” as shamelessly and as futilely as local athletic coaches do at middle and high school athletic events. I will vote against any candidate that does this. I want to know what a candidates actual qualifications are. Has a Sheriff candidate attended formal university training to enable him to understand and apply legal and technical guidelines and skills effectively? Praying for supernatural assistance in locating a kidnapped person or in apprehending a criminal may play well on local television, but it adds only delay to the actual tasks involved in carrying out such duties. School board members, county administrators, and other such officials are entitled to their religious faith. But telling me about it in your campaign speeches or literature will only ensure that I find you unsuitable for public office. Jesus is not running for office, nor is he voting for you. And if you insist upon invoking the supernatural, you are not qualified to be a 21st century elected official.

Matters of personal decision, abortion, civil unions, evolution vs. creationism, do not belong in the public forum. Marriage, a religious ceremony, should be performed only by religious functionaries at the request of two people. The civil union between two people should be recognized by local civil authorities at state level. No religious import attaches to civil unions. No legal import attaches to marriage. There should be no government recognition or validation of marriage once a state legalizes civil unions.

Yes, we are married, it was a traditional religious service. The documentation which united us in civil union was the license to marry granted by the state of Maryland. The Ketubah, a marriage contract that we entered into is the Judaic equivalent of a secular civil union. One it is signed, before the religious ceremony, the pair is married.

Makes sense to me. Try explaining that to the homophobes around this nation. Nothing anyone else can do can damage or degrade our marriage. Only we are capable of that, and we take great care to avoid any harm to our marriage. It’s worth the effort!

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

15 July 2010 Turn your head and

15 July 2010 Turn your head and

Up at 0 dark-thirty this morning in order to drive into Johnson City. It was time for my annual physical, lab studies, and bi-annual urine drug screen.

During a review of medication my primary care physician kept asking if I was stock-piling medications or taking them other than as ordered. She believes that very few patients are fully compliant at taking meds as ordered. I told her that I’ve attended enough post-mortem exams to give me sufficient reason to follow medication instructions.

Got the full physical exam treatment for adult males. No apparent problems requiring me to run in circles and worry. She ordered the lab studies she felt important to run and I’ll get a letter in a week or so with numbers, ref ranges, and any comments she cares to make.

I’m very tired today. May even manage a nap.

Today’s incitement to reason and display of lack of reason can be found at:

“Is God a Republican?

By Elizabeth Tenety

Is God a Republican or a Democrat?

It seems that God has been speaking mostly to Republicans when it comes to the call to serve in public office.

Maybe the G.O.P does stand for God's Own Party after all.

In an interview posted at the Faith & Freedom coalition website, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed asked Sharron Angle, who won Nevada's Republican Senate primary, about her rapid rise. Angle gave a spiritual answer to a political question:

Reed: Sharron, you really came, you know, maybe not out of nowhere, but from the back of the back of the pack to win the Republican primary here in Nevada. There's a new poll out this week that shows you leading Harry Reid by seven or eight points. How do you explain all of this? You're now a national story. Are you kind of overwhelmed by it all?

Sharon Angle: "Not really. I believe that God has been in this from the beginning and because of that, when he has a plan and purpose for your life and you fit into that what he calls you to, he's always equipped people."

God, if you believe His messengers, also spoke to Sarah Palin, George Bush and Norm Coleman, calling them to public office.

Should we take them at their word? “

As always, the fun is in the commentary.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

14 July 2010 Don’t cut that cord

14 July 2010 Don’t cut that cord

When I turned off my computer last night I noticed that the battery power indicator was showing 60%. I powered down, thinking it would recharge overnight, what I had intended when I swapped batteries. This morning the battery read 6% and was not charging. I made a rapid sweep of all connections, plugs, etc. It seemed that there was no power being delivered by the AC adapter.

Racing a clock that demanded we leave for Greeneville, I found an HP AC adaptor that fit the female power socket. Magically, all the proper icons lit up and the notebook began to function as designed.

AC adapters, like all computer components, are prohibitively expensive if one wants original factory parts – or factory labels. I found a replacement for my Toshiba this afternoon that will cost me a quarter of what a factory labeled part would cost. Can’t be without a spare working AC power adaptor and cord.

Our friend, David Gans is playing in a band named Rubber Souldiers. He pointed us to three works for their album in production. Do your ears and spirits a favor and visit the link below to hear this marvelous bit of performance. Think Grateful Dead plays Beatles.

It Won't Please Me Long

Norwegian Boy

Here Comes the Sun

Gloria saw her neurosurgeon this morning. She’s healing well, more rapidly and more completely than he expected. No PT required.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

13 July 2010 Come Mr. Taliban tally me cabanas

13 July 2010 Come Mr. Taliban tally me cabanas

My Take: Christian politicians should start acting Christian

Editor's Note: Richard T. Hughes is Distinguished Professor of Religion at Messiah College and author of Christian America and the Kingdom of God.

“By Richard T. Hughes, Special to CNN

“Let me be frank from the outset: A great cultural divide is ripping the heart from this nation and Christians are partly responsible.

I say that because 83% of the American people claim to be Christians. If those Christians lived as they are taught to live by the teacher they claim to follow, the American public square would be a very different kind of place.”

---Excised, a list of today’s political demagogues and leaders who claim to be Christian but fail to demonstrate such beliefs---

“America’s churches and their pastors therefore have a grave responsibility: to urge their members to serve the public square as peacemakers, as truth-tellers, as people devoted to justice, and as men and women who are actually willing to practice what Jesus taught. If America’s churches refuse to take up this task—which, after all, is a task that is central to the Christian calling—the consequences for our country could be dire, indeed.”

While this column is of interest and is, in my opinion, accurate, the reader responses attacking the author are vicious in their language and intent, telling in their lack of intellectual awareness of how closely these respondents mirror the Taliban.

Reader commentary lines up quickly for or against the premise of the article with those opposing demonstrating rather fervently how little actual understanding of what Christ supposedly taught as compared to what Christian ministers attributing to him.

The abortion argument loads into the conflict quite early with some claiming that all other tenets and teachings can be ignored while still “being Christian” if one opposes abortion. I guess this justifies clinic bombings and the assassination of physicians and other health care providers who perform legal medical procedures at the request of patients. Somehow all the reiterations of how to behave that comprise the “sermon on the mount” have become lost in today’s fanatical Christianity.

The fanatical commenters seem to overlook centuries of Christian –sponsored torture, murders, kidnappings, extortion, and general failure on the part of Christian leaders to observe and follow the restrictions and demands they laid upon the poor and upon the non-Christians. This demonstrates, rather perfectly the behavior that right wing commentators and columnists demonize over and over in writing about Islamic fundamentalism. Christian fundamentalists and fanatics are given a pass by less fanatical Christians in their public life, in their choice to ignore the “peaceful” manner of Christianity, in their tacit approval and complicit participation in the use of deadly force against non-Christians.

While I recognize all too well the difficulty involved in use of military force against enemies of our nation, I do not view it as justified by Christianity. In fact, I am deeply concerned about the infiltration of Christianity into the military structures. I don’t view the current conflict with Afghanistan as war of Christianity against Islam. I view it as a continuation of the conflict between eastern and western civilizations that led to the defeat of the Persian Empire by Greece.

Too many of my self-proclaimed Christian correspondents view the current conflict as a new crusade – or an extension of the medieval crusades, pitting Christianity against Islam. They fail to see how their extremist positions are nearly entirely identical to those of many of the more extreme Moslems. My acquaintances rail and scream at the failure of “moderate” Moslems to publically denounce suicide bombings, attacks upon civilian targets, and other aspects of the current war between cultures. But, as in today’s article, if a Christian attacks the extremist positions of other Christians, they are ready to pillory him.

They are persistent in their belief that the founders intended for this to become a nation with an official Christian religion. No amount of discussion will convince them that the separation of church and state at every level is essential for this to remain the nation it was intended to become. Again, as with Islamic fundamentalists, they ignore or choose not to hold the actions of their co-religionists up to public scrutiny and condemnation.

Take away the cover on the sacred book and it is difficult to tell which group of extremists is at fault for the latest round of contemptible incidents. The Christian cult in the U.S. is as unwilling to compromise with non-Christians as is Islam in Saudi Arabia.

Read the article, then the comments. There will not be a civil resolution.

Also read today, the Al Quaida prisoners at Guantanamo may soon be allowed to contact family in Saudi Arabia on a Skype connection established and maintained by Red Crescent. For those captured in Afghanistan, a never-ending tropical island vacation.

Happy Birthday, Hannah Elspeth!

Monday, July 12, 2010

12 July 2010 Supporting the 1st Amendment to its destruction

12 July 2010 Supporting the 1st Amendment to its destruction

Huckabee: Amend Constitution to be in 'God's standards'

David Edwards and Muriel Kane Published: Tuesday January 15, 2008

“The United States Constitution never uses the word "God" or makes mention of any religion, drawing its sole authority from "We the People." However, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks it's time to put an end to that.

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

When Willie Geist reported Huckabee's opinion on MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski was almost speechless, and even Joe Scarborough couldn't immediately find much to say beyond calling it "interesting,"

Scarborough finally suggested that while he believes "evangelicals should be able to talk politics ... some might find that statement very troubling, that we're going to change the Constitution to be in line with the Bible. And that's all I'm going to say."

The GOP’s hierarchy, the Tea Party mobs, the 10th amendment fanatics, and the militias all spend huge amounts of PR time screaming about the need to “defend the Constitution” or “protect the Constitution.” They view the Constitution, a truly amazing document for its time and place in the timeline of the history of nations, as in danger of imminent demise without their constant vigilance against anyone who might interpret it differently than they believe the original authors interpreted it.

Such a view taken by judges and justices throughout our history would have meant the continuance of slavery, no suffrage for women, no income taxes, no civil rights legislation, no Roe V Wade decision, no Miranda rights, and numerous other laws and decisions by federal courts that have become major decision points in the governmental processes and concepts that define and defend these United States.

I’ve listened to many of my associates rant about “judicial activism” and about the need to preserve the Constitution as written in order to keep the U.S. a viable and powerful nation. I see them post tirades concerning their belief that some non-GOP official or elected office holder is trying to re-write the Constitution in order to overturn the 2nd amendment and strip them of their firearms. They wave the 10th amendment about and insist that every government action not defined in writing in the 18th century is illegal and should be overturned immediately. And they brandish the 1st amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and of religion as if it were a club, attempting to circumvent freedom of religion for their own purposes.

We’ve managed to this point to escape the establishment of a state-sponsored religion, a national church. It is impossible to define how extremely important that escape is. We’ve endured and survived one civil war concerning slavery and economics. A second civil war fought over religion would demolish this nation. We have only to look at the havoc caused by state religions in Latin America, the Arab nations, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and many other nations that still insist on state-sponsored religions, to see how much damage a state church can do.

So, in today’s correspondence, one of the most fanatical adherents of strict interpretation of the Constitution declared that he felt Mike Huckabee to be the best potential GOP presidential candidate. Huckabee is, as cited above, quite willing to change our Constitution and to subvert the 1st amendment. By day’s end, another dozen people from the same source will parrot their support of yet another hideously unqualified politician wanting to become POTUS and to slip his version of the Christian cult into national status.

For reasons I cannot fathom, the more fanatical Christians and the more fanatical denizens of the political right have been twisted by politicians with the ethics of a jackal into an alliance based upon racism, religious intolerance, fear of change, and collective lack of intellect; which allows that portion of the voter base to be manipulated by politicians trumpeting about the takeover of the U.S. by socialists, homosexuals, atheists, non-wasps, and Moslems. They stir up a populace that is all too willing to abolish the 1st amendment’s protection against a state religion. They stir up a populace that believes that it has every right to insert its religion into all aspects of our national life; education, health care, civil contracts between life partners, management of prisons, etc. Yet this base and the politicians, who lead it by the nose, recognize the damage to a nation that Islam can and has caused. They object to Sharia law as a matter of attacking other politicians but find no problem with cannon law becoming U.S. law – well, protestant defined laws if not Catholic versions of religious law.

These protestant evangelists believe that they have every right to reform this nation and turn it into a theocracy based upon a line or two of the New Testament mythos in their King James translation. In doing so, they would, of course, exclude every other Christian cult, and every non-Christian religion.

Mike Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. This places him, at least nominally, in support of a cult that is opposed to female equality in the home and in their churches. It places him in support of the literal interpretation of a bible that suffers from many translation errors and lacks for authentication, but is proclaimed to be the “infallible word of God.” Huckabee, while Governor of Arkansas, became notorious for pardoning any state prison inmate who experienced a jailhouse conversion. Two of his more notorious pardons were delivered to inmates who subsequently committed extremely brutal murders. Of course, as good Christians, they must have been forgiven.

I can’t imagine anyone who proclaims an interest in preserving the Constitution as written having any reason to support a backwoods politician who would do everything in his power to destroy the key components of the Bill of Rights. But I also can’t understand why anyone would expect a document, however worthy, to be infallible in all situations over 234 years later without some honest and earnest interpretation by men and women of intellect and learning. However enlightened our founders were, they were no more infallible than is the head of any church, then or today.

That a staunch and immovable strict construction view of the Constitution and its application to today’s U.S. should be overturned by support of the candidacy of a man who’s first efforts in office would be to destroy the 1st amendment; demonstrates how deeply evangelical Christianity has been able to burrow into the supporting skeleton of this nation. This is grievously and dangerously wrong. While all citizens of this nation should be able to follow their choice of faiths, no faith or cult should be allowed to become involved in any form of government within this nation. There is no higher law in this nation than that derived from the Constitution, nor can there be. Huckabee, and others like him, are a threat to the integrity of this nation. I hope that the media can begin to stress the damage he is capable of rather than using him to increase ratings in the 24 hour fake news business.

Huckabee would be yet another ideal candidate recruited by the former USSR. The loss of scientific secrets to the Soviets would have been far less harmful than destroying the Constitution. If you think about joining the Palinova = sleeper agent smear campaign, Huckabee would be a great target to include in the list of “who would be the best sleeper agent?”

Sunday, July 11, 2010

11 July 2010 Sarah Palinova

11 July 2010 Sarah Palinova

Under Cover of Ineptitude


Published: July 9, 2010

East Otis, Mass.

DON’T be too hard on those crazy Russian spies. If the goal of tradecraft is a natural appearance, they have carried out their instructions with style. As for the wisdom of living secret lives in obscure suburbs in the hope of befriending American neighbors who might someday be someone, it’s not such a zany enterprise if you stop to think that nine of the last 12 presidents of the United States were nobodies from nowhere, as are most of our generals, admirals, politicians, spymasters, bankers and chief executives. If you’re the head of the Russian intelligence service, it must be heartwarming to realize that any Russian boy or girl can grow up to be the best friend of, say, Sarah Palin — or even, with the right forged identity, the next Sarah Palin.

Let's Ask Moose and Squirrel ...

If I were a Russian spy, scheming to destroy the United States, I’d do my best to direct any hint of my hidden goals onto anyone who happened to oppose me. Palin’s continual lies about Obama’s religion and political stance are an excellent example of misdirection.

Her physical appearance does nothing for me but for a percentage of the American voting public it is sufficient to addle their brains and to cause them to forget what is really at stake in an election. The KGB reportedly had a school which provided female Soviet operatives training in seduction.

Palin’s apparent lack of intellect, her bumbling incompetency, and blatant use of misdirection and seduction to obtain voter support are certainly consistent with the way we would expect a sleeper agent to behave. Her presence at Alaska secession meetings and the continual demand to “take back our country” are not at all surprising when one recalls how and when we obtained Alaska. Are the Alaska separatists all secretly former Soviet Union agents?

I don’t believe any of this misinformation about Palinova. But given the huge amount of disinformation that is hurled at anyone opposing her steady stream of lies; it would be tremendously interesting to start a “Palinova = Commie sleeper agent” campaign. Who knows, it might just have some effect.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

10 July 2010 no particular place godot

10 July 2010 no particular place godot

We received .25 inches of rain last night. Today’s sun will make short shrift of that. Local farmers are in trouble. Our creek is in need of rain to keep it deep enough and cool enough for the trout. Fishing may be in order to keep the bigger ones from starvation or overheating.

Despite the lack of rain, the lawn is in need of mowing and trimming. I’m putting off those chores as long as possible.

The local sweet corn crop is in now. There are several road-side stands along Highway 107. We’ll probably buy a couple dozen ears and parboil them to freeze for later use. Last year we consumed two dozen ears within two weeks of freezing them.

I’ve been committed to look at a neighbor’s computer today. Unfortunately I am not able to designate the time when I want to look at it. The neighbor is away doing some sort of family thing that has no definite ending time. So we’re waiting on a phone call that may not come until the end of the afternoon.

In the meantime, I’ve pulled the blanket off the pool, added chlorine tabs to the float, trimmed as much of the weeds and vines around the pool as I can do with manual trimmers today, and am adding water to the pool so that I can brush it down and back flush it adequately. If I don’t clear enough dirt from the filters the clarity sensor in the heater will not allow the heater to ignite. I discovered this by paying a service call fee. The memory stopped me from having to pay another service fee in May.

The gas tank level is around 50% full as near as I can read the gauge. This tells us that the new solar blanket is doing its job adequately, heating what needs to be heated and preventing as much evaporation as possible given the pool’s location and the local micro-climate.

It is, at times, nearly impossible to stay outside when the local gnat population descends in force. This afternoon is such a time, low wind velocity and intermittent cloud cover. It becomes easy to breath in a mouthful of gnats when talking.

It would be a good day to hear some Chuck Berry. I’ve no particular place Godot has always been a favorite of mine.

Friday, July 9, 2010

9 July 2010 Every right to riot

9 July 2010 Every right to riot

Mehserle verdict of involuntary manslaughter spurs protests in Oakland


The Associated Press

Friday, July 9, 2010; 10:31 AM

The riots in Oakland bring a serious question to mine.

What is there in the makeup of a minority community that leads to riots, riots that lead to the destruction of shops and residences serving and housing that community?

In 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King, riots broke out in many U.S. cities. Some of the areas still show damage from the fires and looting today. There was more rioting following the trial of Rodney King and that of O.J. Simpson.

Last night in Oakland CA rioters set fires, smashed bank windows, and looted an athletic shoe store and a jewelry store. To be fair, the video I saw today captured police arresting both white and black rioters. Oakland is more diverse in population than many cities.

I am puzzled by the use of riots as a response to police action, court verdicts, and shootings by police and by non-police. Invariably looting and arson yield unfavorable press and decreased services and housing for people who need those services to be within walking or public transport distances. I’m puzzled at the acceptance of looting and rioting by minority communities. I’m equally disturbed by minority and non-minority apologists who attempt to justify rioting by pointing to historical wrongs. Slavery was morally reprehensible, but there are no former slaves alive today. Education was once denied to minorities. That is not the case today. Voting is available to those who qualify. The situations of the early 20th century no longer exist. Minorities should not point to them as justification of illegal behavior, gang membership, etc.

I’d like to hear some comments about this. It’s a mystery to me and always has been.

Sanctions alone won't work on Iran

Network News


By Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald

Friday, July 9, 2010

I find myself in agreement with the authors in their assessment of how we should deal with Iran.

Iran can not field a large enough army to invade and destroy Israel. We cannot field sufficient troops to invade and conquer Iran, even if we pulled all our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and added them to fresh troops. Given these limiters, the likelihood that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear arms is 99% or higher, in my estimation. The probability that we would require the use of low-yield nuclear warheads to block and demolish Iran’s nuclear weapons program is about 90% in my estimation.

While there would be enormous protest mounted against a U.S. nuclear pre-emptive strike against Iran’s weapons program; I seriously doubt that any other nation would do more than reproach us verbally. No Arab states want a nuclear-armed Iran trying to rearrange the balance of political and religious power in the Middle East. No European or Asian nation wants Iran to have nuclear weapons.

Israel should not attempt such a strike at this time. The amount of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism already demonstrable would only increase.

The U.S. is probably willing to accept the loss of civilian lives in Iran that such a strike would cause. Such loss of life would likely solidify the position of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the militant fanatics who control missiles and who’s bases shelter the hardened nuclear plants. While the current President might fall, the willingness for Iranian reconciliation with the U.S. that many journalists reportedly find in the Iranian citizenry would vanish with the smoke and fires of an attack on Iranian soil.

The use of client terrorist organizations against the U.S. by Iran would increase. The support for Iran among Moslem nations would ratchet up appreciably. For that reason, if the U.S. decides to plan and carryout a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear production sites, it should simultaneously plan and execute a similar strike against the Pakistani nuclear weapons storage sites. That would help to eliminate the risk of Iran purchasing weapons grade fissile materials in order to extract revenge against the U.S.

While I dislike the Bush pre-emptive strike doctrine, I have no reason to doubt that, should the current Iranian regime secure nuclear devices, they will be deployed against the U.S. and Israel with as much simultaneity as possible. I would hate for us to deploy thermo-nuclear weapons in today’s world. I would hate far more having such weapons deployed against us.

Dinner tonight will be seared sea scallops, sautéed spinach with mushrooms, potatoes with cheese sauce.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

8 July 2010 Hold the war news, this is important

8 July 2010 Hold the war news, this is important

This morning’s news broadcast contained less news than usual. For some inexplicable reason the topics of a economy in danger of returning to depression, the continuing oil deluge in the Gulf of Mexico, political polarization, high-seas piracy, and a host of other matters were felt to be less important than the career moves of a professional athlete.

I personally have no idea who plays what position for what team in any game at any academic or professional level. Nor do I wish to know this information. There are numerous “sports” channels that litter the cable feed, none of which I have ever watched. I object to programming by news channels wasting time with such unimportant subject matter when they spend so little time actually delving beneath the surface of the material that can and does have an effect on all our lives at multiple levels. Even the 24 hour news channels barely get beneath the surface in covering what is happening and almost no one touches upon why things are happening.

As the level of educational achievement in public schools declines, so does the level of information exchange. What was once written and broadcast at a level the average high-school senior might understand is now too difficult and complex for that senior. Third grade reading and comprehension levels are now used to structure speeches and other public addresses. That is quite disturbing.

This loss of intellectual ability should not be happening to a nation that likes to portray itself as the apex of political and cultural development. It has become apparent that we have failed to value education and personal intellectual achievement as goals for our citizens. We’ve allowed athletics to become a reason for staying in school instead of knowledge being the reason for schooling. At a time when we are unable to pay teachers for the core curriculum, we still spend fortunes to equip and transport athletic teams around the country. When we’re closing schools due to inability to pay the light bills, we should not be building &/or maintaining football stadia and basketball arenas. Never, at any academic institution, should a coach be paid more than entry level teachers.

We wind up with political candidates who view government as a game to be won. We wind up with athletes being carried through classes at high school and college levels. We wind up with athletes who never learn to study, who become politicians due to their popularity. We wind up with our nation becoming more involved in athletic gambling than with discovering how best to govern ourselves. We wind up allowing political parties to slide unqualified former athletes into elected jobs without anyone ever questioning their qualifications. Out athlete worshiping voters have never learned to become intellectually curious. So the mob elects candidates, who like the mob members, don’t measure up to the mark set by our well educated leaders.

Just as with cable feed, I’d rather get more depth, have leaders who are intellectually curious, and pay them honest salaries. I will never wish to pay for televised athletics. And I will never wish to pay elected leaders who behave like professional athletes.

Get with it, CNN. I don’t care what player goes where, when. You promised me news.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

7 July 2010 missionary boiled dinner

7 July 2010 missionary boiled dinner

Kenya's constitutional vote on sharia courts pits Muslims against Christians

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

“The U.S. ambassador to Kenya has publicly urged Kenyans to vote in favor of the proposed constitution, including the kadhis courts, arguing that passage is key to keeping Kenya stable. But on Web sites and in opinion pieces, conservative U.S. Christian groups have denounced the proposed constitution. They are opposed to the kadhis courts provision, and they see other aspects of the constitution as being pro-abortion. Some have organized petition drives against the courts.

The American Center for Law and Justice, founded by evangelical Pat Robertson, opened an office in Nairobi this year to oppose the new constitution. On its Web site, the group says that the "high number of Muslims in the slums and a significant increase in the number of Somalis" have brought the kadhis courts issue into "sharp focus."

"There are those who believe there is an overall Islamic agenda geared towards the Islamisation of the country," the group says. “

I generally don't care for religious courts functioning within a governmental judicial system. But I also don't care for missionaries meddling in the affairs of other nations or within our national policies. I've said before that protecting the lives of American citizens in foreign lands justifies military action. In Robertson's case, I retract that statement. If he chooses to interfere in Kenyan affairs, I hope he gets a taste of Sharia law.

The stereo-typical cartoon featuring missionary boiled dinner actually referred to dietary habits in the South Pacific rather than Kenya. If Kenya wishes to serve such a dinner, I'm sure we can fly in the cooking vessel as our contribution to diversity.

It amuses me to hear complaints about,” an overall Islamic agenda geared towards the Islamisation of the country," pouring from the mouths of evangelical Christians who have immense budgets dedicated to the conversion of everyone they can reach. There is a centuries-long history of indigenous native populations who lost their homelands and their existence as a people; but who were forcibly converted at sword, spear, or gunpoint before being enslaved for “god and king.” We should also recall the Inquisition and the Crusades. All those elements of fundamentalist Islam, which I find highly objectionable, had precursors and precedents in Christianity. And the Christian agenda still exists. At least, no Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, or Jew is pounding on my door with a handful of pamphlets and the determination to pray me into becoming a Christian. Keeping them outside the door is critical, but in most states it is no longer legal to set dogs upon them in defense of one’s home and sanity.

If it were possible, perhaps the no-fly lists should include missionaries. While there is no denying that some of them do offer education and healthcare to local populations, those benefits still come with a price. In recent history that price has included epidemic diseases, loss of native culture, and extinction. No religious organization has the right to inflict such harm on any other people.

I’d be all for restricting Robertson’s audience if I could. He has no right to meddle in the affairs of other states because he objects to their religious practices. But he’s done sufficient harm here that I would rather he meet his martyrdom in some ignoble manner, discovering how his version of Taliban differs only in language from that of Islamic fanatics.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

6 July 2010 So long, It’s been good to know you

6 July 2010 So long, It’s been good to know you

The period of time between 1940 and 1973 was probably the best period in this nation’s history to be looking for work. American industrial might had just won a dual-front world war and the factories were retooled to civilian consumer goods with little delay. Infrastructure growth was seen by Truman and Eisenhower as necessary for national security. Science and scientists were providing new tools and toys for our society with each passing day. Anyone who wanted to work, for the most part, could find work. Much of that work paid a livable wage or salary.

With the election of Reagan and the implementation of trickle-down economics the picture changed. Factories closed and jobs were exported overseas as leveraged and hostile buyouts drove merger after merger; each merged corporation promising ever-increasing dividends. Executive salaries rocketed, profits were declared with every pink slip handed our to an hourly or salaried employee. The pattern was established and out-sourcing and off-shoring of job after job allowed profits of an unholy nature for the professional executives at the top of the corporate heap. Deregulation of industries fed the flames.

Now, we’ve no industrial base, no jobs for workers, and no money for the out of work workers to buy the products shipped in from the off-shore factories. When there’s no one left to buy the things we don’t make, but used to; the CEO’s begin to take notice and demand a bail-out. Even after they’ve been bailed out, they still demand tax cuts for the promise of new jobs.

Unfortunately, even today, the out of work workers and the once middle class still let the GOP lie to them. Listen up! Nothing trickles downward in this economic system. Reagan was senile. He believed the BS he read from his 3x5 cards.

Now the next insult is being hurled. The GOP and TP mob mouthpieces are claiming that the huge number of unemployed want benefits because they are lazy and can make more money drawing unemployment benefits than working a full-time job.

No one I know of would rather rely on unemployment benefits and lose their job-related insurance benefits so that they can spend their days doing nothing.

I was injured in a motor vehicle accident in 1998. It took nearly two years of surgeries, PT, and legal hassles to stabilize my spine. I was left with chronic severe pain requiring medication, loss of fine motor control and strength in one arm, inability to drive, sit or stand for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, loss of range of motion in my arm and neck. I was unable to continue in a job field I had been in for 30+ years.

Since this was a workers' comp injury, some attempt was made by the carrier to return me to employed status despite their chosen physician's decision that I could not return to work. I sat down with an attorney and filled out the interview forms. They could not find any employment within reasonable distance that would even begin to approach what I had been making. They kept pushing minimum wage jobs outside my field of expertise, with no benefits and no full-time status. In every case I was over-qualified, and too old to hire. I refused all these as I had not been cleared to return to work. To accept even one job would have allowed them to deny any further benefits and would have left me worse off than before. Fortunately my attorney fed me the right information.

For someone who has worked since age 14, being unemployed and unemployable is devastating. I found myself with no income beyond limited workers' comp payments, requiring medication that cost more/month than I received in benefits, and past that age when experience is too expensive to justify hiring someone.

Such situations are happening to millions of people today. The industrial jobs base no longer exists; full-time employment is undesirable for corporations so no one gets medical benefits. People who have worked all their lives find that all the equity they have in a long-term home is worthless, that they cannot afford to move to another job, can't afford the cost of infrequent interviews, and have to worry about every expense from food to car repairs to medical problems as a major crisis.

There are no jobs. Even if corporate America were handed another Bush tax cut for the very wealthy any jobs that might be created will be off-shore.

Men and women hoping for unemployment benefits to be extended -by people who don't have to worry about missing meals or mortgage payments - aren't lazy. They want to work full-time. They want to provide security for their families, save their homes, feel like they matter once more. Collecting unemployment is demoralizing. But I'd rather face that than watch someone I love starve, waiting for jobs that don't exist, that I am too old to hired to fill, that I can't afford to move for or to, if they might exist.

The GOP is lying to America. No amount of tax cuts for the wealthy will restore our industrial base. Bush gave them those cuts and the jobs still went offshore in synchronicity with the salaries of executives spiraling up, the cost of living spinning ever upward, and the GOP's PR machine screaming for still bigger tax cuts.

Obama’s trying but with GOP opposition layered up against every effort I don’t know that his administration can do much. Creating a new CCC like structure might help. Massive infrastructure projects might help. But getting any thing past cowardly Democrats and the GOP attempt to fail every Obama project, it may never come to be.

Like those Americans who rode U.S. 66 westward during the Dust Bowl days, I think the good days are behind us. American jobs, like American topsoil from the Great Plains, have drifted away and are never coming back. So long, America. It’s been good to know you!