Thursday, March 31, 2011

31 March 2011 Truck load of art burning near the highway

Culture, Rolling Into Towns on Big Rigs

“Trucks transport 70 percent of the freight in the United States, according to the Department of Transportation. And if a prominent New York artist and his friends have their way, a tiny fraction of that total — six 18-wheelers full, to be exact — will soon be a variety of cargo not usually found barreling down the interstate: art, fresh from painters’ studios; poets’, playwrights’ and songwriters’ pens; and filmmakers’ cameras.

“For those with long memories of the lore of art and the open road, the project may bring to mind the 1979 comic song “Truckload of Art,” by the Texas artist and songwriter Terry Allen, among the musicians recruited by Mr. Fischl to participate. In the song a group of New York artists rent a “spankin’ new, white-shiny, chrome-plated cab-over Peterbilt” and fill it with “hot avant-garde” to drive to California and show up their West Coast counterparts... “

“Mr. Fischl said the project was raising money from some of the participating artists as well as from foundations and corporations. Though a few artists he approached declined to take part — “There were artists who were scared, I think, that it sounded nationalistic or patriotic with the capital P” — most, he said, seemed eager to have a chance to reach audiences outside museums and galleries and commercial theaters.

“The art world has become incredibly insular,” he said. “There’s such a disconnect between what artists are trying to do and how what they make ultimately gets used.”

Though he first considered conducting the tour by train, he said, he and others felt that trucks would allow them to go more places.

“Plus, when these trucks come to town and unfold, people are going to be totally curious about what’s inside them, in the same way they are when the circus or Nascar comes to town,” he added. “Americans love trucks; they aren’t intimidated by them..”

Cassi Creek:

This brings to mind the old Chautauqua events that brought education, culture, and sometimes-political assimilation to a willing audience disguised as education as they traveled about the nation from their New York base and center. The organization still exists, thrives, and serves an ever-eager populace.

The traveling art show calls out to be named “Chatruqua,” in honor of the traditional events.

The song, Truck Load of Art” is a sad bit of commentary on the people who dwell in the valleys of the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas rivers. While the major cities in this basin have art museums, symphony orchestras, and the other trappings of advanced societies, beyond the suburbs, in the towns that are populated by thousands, there is less interest in such “big city” things. NASCAR drivers at fan events draw larger crowds than do Pulitzer winners. There is likely no chess club at the local high school but there will be athletes who stay in school only in hopes of a jock scholarship and recruitment that they will never honestly have a ghost of a chance receiving.

I’d be thrilled to see a truckload of art and some assorted writers, poets, and artists pull up and disgorge cultural happenings. We’ve already seen the Harley-Davidson trailer museum and the art museum at the university we both attend. A truckload of Monet, Manet, and Delacroix would be fun to see. So would a rotation of Picasso, Reubens, & Van Gough. I’d like to hear a number of authors and poets read from their works, knowing that they forged those pages single-handedly and with honest intent, rather than by spending a say with a ghostwriter and then showing up two weeks later to sign off on the dust jacket but never reading the purported work at all.

I’d like to see this plan unfold and provide a local market for our friends who pull really good works of art from their eyes, brains, and hands.

But I don’t think it will really succeed in bringing culture to the masses. Americans may not be intimidated by trucks, but they are intimidated by art.

Truckload of Art Lyrics

Artist: Terry Allen

Song: Truckload of Art

Album: Lubbock (On Everything)


Once upon a time…

Sometime ago back on the east coast

In New York City, to be exact…

A bunch of artists and painters and

sculptors and musicians and

poets and writers and dancers

and architects

Started feeling real superior

to their ego-counter-parts

Out on the West Coast…so,

They all got together and decided

They would show those snotty surfer upstarts

A thing or two about the Big Apple

And…they hired themselves a truck

It was a big, spanking new white-shiny

Chrome-plated cab-over


With mud flaps, stereo, TV, AM & FM radio,

Leather seats and a naugahide sleeper…

All fresh

with new American Flag decals and "ART ARK"

Printed on the side of the door

with solid 24-karat gold leaf type…

And they filled up this truck

with the most significant piles

And influential heaps of Art Work

To ever be assembled in Modern Times,

And it sent it West…to chide

Cajole, humble and humiliate…the Golden Bear.

And this is the true story of that truck…

A Truckload of Art

From New York City

Came rollin down the road

Yeah the driver was singing

And the sunset was pretty

But the truck turned over

And she rolled off the road


Yeah a Truckload of Art

is burning near the highway

Precious objects are scattered

All over the ground

And it's a terrible sight

If a person were to see it

But there weren't nobody around


Yeah the driver went sailing

High in the sky

Landing in the gold lap of the Lord

Who smiled and then said

"Son, you're better off dead

Than haulin a truckload

full of hot avant-garde


Yes…an important artwork

Was thrown burning to the ground

Tragically…landing in the weeds

And the smoke could be seen

Ahhh for miles all around

Yeah but nobody…knows what it means

Yes…a Truckload of Art

Is burning near the highway

And it's a tough job for the highway patrol

Ahhh they'll soon see the smoke

An come runnin to poke

Then dig a deep ditch

And throw the arts in a hole


Yeah a Truckload of Art

Is burning near the highway

And it's raging far-out of control

And what the critics have cheered

Is now shattered and queered

And their noble reviews

Have been stewed on the road

So if you set out to bring “Art” to the middle states, bring lots of marshmallows too.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 March 2011 Le temps passé

Another phrase might well be “time marches on,” as the month of April looms ahead.

The year 2011 is one quarter gone, our planet’s circum-Solar journey well underway.

In earlier eras, this month would have been the New Year. The calendar calculation would have noted the greening of trees and the return of food crops to the fields. Livestock giving birth to the next year’s meat would cement the relationship to the vernal equinox.

Now it signals the return the mowing season. The hated knotweed has sprung from shoot to 5-foot cane, seemingly overnight. It is time to do battle with weed trimmer and herbicide, to prevent as much encroachment as possible.

I’m still doing battle with the graphing assignment for Volcanology. Lack of engineering scales and my reluctance to spend $ 20 for a triangular scale I won’t need again this semester is delaying my final revision of this project. The first group project is now submitted for grading. It fell to me to write the report for submission and to me and one other of the group to finalize and submit the report. I essentially pulled up at least two people’s grades at no effort to them. This failure to attend class and share in assigned work is really annoying. I could have modified my report to denote non-performance, or to lower the quality of the report and drop the others’ grades with little effort. Yet, while I don’t even receive a grade, and could simply opt out of these projects, I can’t bring myself to do less than I’m capable of.

We’ve only about a month of classes left in this semester. I’m not sure what courses I may take next fall, if any. Gasoline prices are really out of hand as the speculators who destroyed the housing market and walked away with overflowing pockets, are now using crude oil to even further destroy the middle class and the national economy.

Last night we dined on grilled pork chops, sautéed yellow squash, and red pepper strips. Tonight will most likely be burritos and salad.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29 March 2011 Gingrich 2011 still a loathsome bottom feeder

By Dan Gilgoff, Religion Editor

“Hours after declaring Sunday that he expects to be running for president within a month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's worried the United States could be “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,” in the foreseeable future, according to Politico.”

Cassi Creek:

The contradictions in that statement are immense and glaring.

A secular nation would not be necessarily atheist in nature. It could, but might simply eliminate all lip service to religion in public matters while offering what the first Amendment promised, a society where there is no state religion to be worried about.

Nor would a secular society, if one uses the accurate meaning of secular, be “dominated by Islamists.” The elimination of one state religion does not immediately bring another into existence.

The operative mechanism in this short but inaccurate display of ignorance is the over-riding need for many Christians to push their faith into a state religion while proclaiming, erroneously, that Islam is not a religion when seeking to deny Muslims civil rights; and that it is a religion when it might somehow contest with Christianity for members and money.

The fear of atheists is irrational at best. Refusal to worship a mythical deity does not mean that one’s actions will lead to the downfall of the body politic or even to the downfall of Christianity. In Europe, where the enlightenment and age of reason began, Christianity is slowly withering from lack of interest as European nations stress math and science in their curricula. In the U.S., the age of reason was somehow derailed by the economic power of robber barons and Wall Street, aided by the Catholic Church, eager to grow fat on the influx of immigrants willing to work for poverty wages. Add the unschooled, the poorly schooled, and the intolerance supported by southern Christian sects, to see a nation governed by superstition and mythology.

I think we can find worse presidential candidates than Gingrich; bottom feeders have to feed on something lower down on the food chain. But truthfully, if Gingrich is elected, if any combination of Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich, Barbour, & Bachman is nominated, we’ll know that the electoral process in this nation needs to be torn down and rebuilt.

Our founders were not infallible, despite the wonderful documents they wrote for us. They made the huge mistake of believing that their successors would be as honorable and as committed to reason and rationality as they were. They believed that the age of reason would work the same great changes on the New World as it would on the Old.

Monday, March 28, 2011

28 March 2011 honey to my ears

We live in a region of the country that is politically to the right of the majority of the current GOP and highly receptive to the rhetoric of the teavangelist mobs.

I spent part of the time between today’s classes sitting in on a lecture course on the humanities, art, architecture, music, literature, & philosophy. I’ve attempted to sit in on this lecture since I discovered it taking place. I enjoy it and find it a good refresher for some of my long ago electives. I also find it educational and interesting, broadening my knowledge base in miniscule, easily assimilated snippets.

When I slid into a seat in the rear of the lecture hall today, I noticed that the projection screen was displaying information about “The Communist Manifesto” and “Origin of Species.” The philosophy of Marx and Engels, as well as the observations and findings of Darwin were sources of lecture for about 50 good little sons and daughters of Tennessee. They sat quietly as the professor did his best to impart the core principles and findings of both books, the philosophy of all three authors, to them

He did his best to be fair, repeatedly disavowed any membership or support for a communist organization. He laid out the demand made by Marx and Engels on behalf of the world’s workers. He hammered on the conditions in factories, the lack of protection for laborers, the lack of minimum wage, employee benefits, workers, compensation, and all the other benefits and gains that have come from unionization in Europe and the U.S. He got no response from his students.

He laid out the methods used by Darwin and the nature of scientific theories. He did his best to counter the common anti-evolution bullshit without once mentioning religion other than stressing Darwin’s Christian faith. He got no response from his students and I said quietly, smiling.

I really have no idea what his students will carry from his class. I hope they come away with the desire to reform U.S. culture, society, and our political/economic system.

As for me, I found myself wanting to stand up and shout, “Remember Leon Trotsky!”

I didn’t; but the semester is not yet over.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

27 March 2011 Circles and arrow with a paragraph on the back

Today is another data crunching day. I finally got the first cross section completed and suspect that it is adequate to demonstrate class participation but not something I’d want to base a grade upon.

I understand the concept of vertical exaggeration but manipulating the axis to provide a valid exaggeration is another of those things lost in the distant past, taught on a Saturday morning at 0740. Back to the small cleared space that serves as a multipurpose desk/drafting stand.

I keep reminding myself that I could simply opt out on this project with no consequence. While I’m not competing with the class, I do want to measure my own degree of understanding. After all, that’s what it is about.

Finished with Excel for the day and shifting to written work.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

26 March 2011 Buried in paper no hole punch

This week the Volcanology course became markedly more difficult. The lack of physical geology preparation and long absence from using Excel with anything harder than household finances became a greater problem.

The task of preparing geologic cross sections has my desk covered in graph paper, data results logs, pens, pencils, and other miscellaneous materials and tools.

Of course, both in-service printers ran low on ink this past week. I found replacement cartridges for my printer but the fake cartridge store had none available for Gloria’s printer. The replacement black cart I installed was immediately noted as a “USED CARTRIDGE” by my printer. It punished my sin against HP by demanding a print heat calibration, using ink for no real purpose. It will not monitor the ink levels in fake cartridges. Empty status will happen with no warning.

I have managed to spend quite a lot of the day building Excel spreadsheets and graphs of data points, depth of ash fall vs. distance from vent. My major experience with Excel dates back to the earliest releases and ended in the 1990s. The latest two releases have major differences from those programs I was familiar with. It’s been a learning day.

I’ve copies of isopac maps all over my desk; I’ve downloaded graph paper templates. I have yet to draw contour maps of two different ash deposits. I need to complete both plan and section views. All of this paper needs to be collated and added to hand written answers to questions, and then placed in a three ring binder for Dr. Gregg’s review. I have no hole punch and no plans to acquire one.

Still, despite the rainy day, despite the cooler temperatures, today has been an extremely great day. I look forward to more like it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

25 March 2011 The gift of a blade

Periodically I join the 21st century, or some aspect of it. I’ve been an customer for years now. Amazon has neat toys and many necessities; so I often think of them as a first source when I can avoid paying shipping or when I need something in my hands rapidly and on time.

Over the years, I have gotten away from the practice of celebrating my birthday. My work schedules and other demands made it just another workday. Still, once in a while someone will ask me what I want as a birthday (or some other occasion) gift. There are really very few things, which I need that I lack. There are some toys that may peak my interest but they are just that, toys. Honestly, I lack storage space for more toys.

Enter! They provide an on-line location to post a wish list type file. If I happen onto an album of music that appeals to me, or a new kitchen tool/toy that looks as if it might be useful and fun, I can add to to the list that keeps for me. They provide this service in hopes that someone will find a need to spend money because of me. I provide the list, honestly, as a means of discouraging unnecessary gifts. What I add to the list are things that I would actually find useful/fun. But they are, for the most part, cost-prohibitive. That’s the intent. A card or a call is more than adequate to make my day.

Yesterday just before dinner UPS delivered a box. Neither of us had ordered anything so the contents were unexpected and unknown. The box was about 18 inches by 10 inches and contained a large blue bag with a gold-colored ribbon tied around it.

I prefer to have and use high quality knives when a knife is needed. My kitchen cutlery, a Chanukah gift from Gloria a decade ago now, are Sabatier drop-forged knives with a few Lamson-Sharps and Fiskars special purpose blades added. I have two 10-inch slicer blades that are great for some tasks but I’ve nothing that excels at slicing rare roast beef, fish, and other items that call for very thin slices that can be resected with one single stroke. That is, I had nothing until yesterday. .

They mystery package was from Gloria’s brother, Shea and his wife, Brigitte. Inside was a 12-inch Granton-edged slicer. This is a special purpose, well-designed and very welcome addition to my kitchen knives. This is a blade that suggests a menu laden with haunches of game, large fowl, fillets of salmon, lox sliced thin enough to read through. This is a blade that can handle all those tasks. The balance is great, the weight in the hand excellent, and I actually have one kitchen drawer that will allow me to store the knife safely and properly so as to avoid damage to the edge.

It’s a wonderful gift, thank you both very much!

A common belief is that if a knife is given as a gift, the relationship of the giver and recipient will be severed. Something such as a small coin dove or a valuable item is exchanged for the gift, rendering "payment.” I’ve never given this any stock or any thought. So when my older son was married in 2009, I gave him a small pocketknife with a beautiful Damascus steel blade as a gift. His wife’s family, immigrants to Canada from Taiwan, was horrified. They insisted he return the knife to me.

To me, a knife is a tool, nothing else. I enjoy using them if they are well designed and well made. If not, they are headed for recycling. Superstition has no place in my kitchen, but I’m looking for a nice beef roast to try my newest kitchen tool!

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

24 March 2011 True grits

This has nothing to do with the movie starring John Wayne. I must admit that the scene with Wayne riding with the reins in his teeth, shooting with both hands is one of the best things he ever did as an actor. But this has nothing to do with that movie.

It has even less to do with the remake of the movie starring Wayne. I haven’t bothered to see it. I don’t know who acted in it and truthfully don’t care. The prices for movie admissions have become impossibly expensive. The concessions prices even more so. Since I don’t drink soft drinks I don’t have to feel gouged by the bottler/distributors. The price for a bucket of over-salted, greasy popcorn would feed many families their evening meal. But this is not about either the non-Wayne movie or overpriced concessions.

This is about cornmeal. This is about food, of a sort, depending upon where you had the good fortune to be born and to grow up.

To learn more about grits, hominy and regular, follow the link.

The subject arises because I am fixing shrimp and cheese grits for dinner tonight.

This is a southern coastal dish, born of poverty and chance, and now celebrated by the middle and upper class of the region in books, restaurant reviews, and even song – so I’ve been told. I have southern ancestry so I’ve eaten grits.

One of the prime rules in southern cooking as practiced by my grandparent’s generation – for that matter by both sets of grandparents – was to never serve meat that might be the least bit rare. Another was to boil all vegetables until they no longer had any defined form, then to boil them for another 1o minutes just to be sure. Grits fall under the latter category and rule. They are grits here, polenta in Italy, corn-meal mush in the U.S. North East, and numerous other names in those parts of the world where they are considered edible.

How to cook them is hotly contested. I’ve been on fishing trips where the southern contingent got up at 0: dark-thirty to start boiling milk to use in boiling grits. It makes no difference what they boil it in, it tastes the same - behind poi in the flavor cavalcade. The northern contingent, when asked for comments, all agreed that they’d never tasted anything quite like the breakfast paste offered them. I’ve seen northern contingents prepare oatmeal and eaten my share with due appreciation while the southern folks muttered loudly about in adequate food.

However they are prepared, grits are a blank slate for the cook. Flavoring them during preparation helps their palatability. Failing that, flavoring them before consumption is essential. I’ve eaten them baked with cheese, boiled with other cheeses and butter, heavily laden with sorghum molasses, spike with red-eye gravy, and several other ways that should not be mentioned in polite society. While I may live in the south, I was born and educated in the north. Grits are edible but it helps to have something else of highly appreciated flavor to remind one’s palate that it has not been forsaken and condemned to some southern gulag.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

23 March 2011 Bits and pieces

The morning dog and pony show contained the announcement that Libya’s anti-aircraft capabilities, missile, gun, and radar/commo have been smashed. According to the statement, Libya can no longer mount aerial attacks against it civilian populace.

There are also reports that Libyan ground forces are still actively pursuing and attacking Libyan rebel forces. Khadafy has proclaimed, from the safety of a non-public location that the fighting will continue until the rebel forces are wiped out. He includes non-combatant women and children in the target population.

There has been a bombing in Jerusalem at the central bus station. First reports indicate 25 total casualties with 4 of those seriously injured. As of 0940 EDT, no one has claimed responsibility. Hamas rockets have also hit Ashdod and Ber Sheva. There are some indications that the IDF may be considering another ground action in Gaza. As of 1300 EDT the information out of Israelis still uncertain and confused. The bomb, first of such manner in four years, was apparently attached to a phone booth. No evidence of suicide delivery has been acknowledged.

Elizabeth Taylor is dead. She was 79.

I am now 63 years of age. I am certain that I never imagined myself attaining this age.

Through no effort of my own, I have two sisters and had two brothers, all of them younger than me. Both brothers are dead; one of injuries sustained in an auto accident, the other due to viral infection secondary to complications of multiple sclerosis. I regret not meeting him and am grateful for the time I had with the other.

There is a good chance we will drive over to Greeneville this week for dinner out. Shrimp and grits is beginning to sound good. Alternatively, I may find a recipe and fix that dish at home. Spaghetti Carbonara is also working its way to the top of the menu chain. In close third, Hue style Shrimp, Pork, and Bun salad over rice noodles.

Few of us are privileged to know when the best days of our live occur. I know when they began for me. They began the day I met Gloria and continue unbroken in range. If the weather and my shoulders hold through the weekend I may fish our creek before the knot weed makes access too difficult.

Dinner, tonight, remains to be decided. Simple with minimal prep and attention sounds best.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

22 March 2011 Rub a little harder, wish a little louder

“The 22-member Arab League strongly condemned Gaddafi’s assaults on Libyan civilians in its March 12 resolution calling for an international enforcement of a no-fly zone. It was the first time the league had called for military action against one of its members, and that resolution became the basis for the U.N. Security Council resolution last Thursday that authorized the use of force against Gaddafi.

Yet, it remains politically difficult for many Arab states to use force against another Muslim country or to publicly side with Western powers in an attack on another Arab leader — even one as unpopular in the Arab world as Gaddafi, said Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank.

“On the one hand, they find Gaddafi a menace and an embarrassment,” May said, “and on the other hand, some are afraid that the same arguments being used to take down Gaddafi could be used against their own regimes.””

“The international military coalition focused Monday on extending the no-fly zone to al-Brega, Misrata and then to Tripoli, a distance of about 1,000 kilometers (more than 600 miles).

The Spanish parliament Tuesday approved Spanish military participation in the international coalition operating in Libya. Canadian and Belgian forces joined coalition forces Monday, he said, and aircraft carriers from Italy and France have added "significant capability" in the region.

The United Arab Emirates had been prepared to send two squadrons to participate in the international effort, said retired Maj. Gen. Khaled Abdullah Al-Buainnain -- the former commander of the Emirates' air force and air defense.

However, he said, those plans have changed due to criticism by the United States and the European Union of the Gulf Cooperation Council's deployment of troops to help the monarchy stabilize Bahrain.

The UAE has chosen not to take a military role in Libya until Washington and the European Union clarify their position on the use of troops in Bahrain, but it will contribute to the humanitarian effort in Libya, Al-Buainnain said.

About 80 sorties were flown Monday -- more than half of them by air forces representing countries other than the United States, Ham said.

But support for the attacks was not universal. The Russian government said the mission has killed innocent civilians and urged more caution. India, China and Venezuela have also spoken out against the airstrikes.”

Cassi Creek:

We’ve no way out of this debacle but to pick up our toys and bring our troops home. The Arab League wants as no fly zone with no collateral damage, no civilian injuries, and no demonstration that the various Arab air forces are abjectly and essentially impotent in any contest against Western air forces. They want our help in deposing a member they no longer value but don’t want us to demonstrate that their armies and navies are for the most part, primarily former client states of the USSR using leftover Soviet and Soviet-era hardware and tactics. While they can buy GPS units and night vision units on the weapons and other markets now, the hardware available to them is mostly 1st generation 20 years or more outdated.

Their largest problems concerning ground troops are the same problems that our “training units” are faced with in Iraq and Afghanistan today. There is pronounced illiteracy among the recruit pool. There is the problem of Muslim troops killing other Muslim troops. There is the failure to instill chains of authority and chains of command, problems with bribery, misappropriation of weapons and everything else to trade or sell on the black market, and the conflict between Sunni and Shia. The concept of maintenance as a necessity is alien. So is the concept of continual training. Trainees fail to remain at their duty posts, with their units during and after training. Family ties, tribal loyalties, and other cultural factors limit the ability of Western trainers to bring about any sort of realistic upgrade to local armies and navies.

We thought we would get what we wanted, a short-live NATO coalition that we could hand off to Arab forces so that they would begin to carry the reality of regime change and conflict in their own region. We were wrong. I doubt we will see any Arab air forces actually strike Libyan aircraft or ground force. The myth of cooperation between the West and the Arabs remains a myth.

The Arab League got what it asked for, a no fly zone implemented and enforced by Western armies, navies, and air forces. That they failed to understand what they were asking for is both a technical and cultural problem. Next time they want us to implement a regime change for them; we should ignore the request and suggest that what they want is best obtained by magical thinking and rubbing a brass lamp repeatedly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

21 March 2011 Bach to Basics A long list of musician, actors, writers, politicians, and other notables may be found at the link cited here. I did not expect to find my name on the list and am, thus, not disappointed by its non-appearance. Two of my favorite composers are on the list of the famous who share this birth date with me.

1685 - Johann Sebastian Bach, Eisenach Germany

1839 - Modest Mussorgsky, composer (Boris Gudunov, Night on Bald Mt)

In the area of magical and unrealistic thought processes, we find the Arab League. The Arab League asked f or a UN resolution to establish a no fly zone interdicting the use of Kaddafi’s air power against the opposing rebel forces and Libyan civilians. The UN provided such and allowed all possible means to enforce the edict.

In the last three days the U.S., Great Britain, and France have launched cruise missile and attack aircraft strikes against the Libyan air force, some ground forces, and the Khadaffi compound. Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750

To implement a no fly zone it is necessary to remove all elements of anti-aircraft capability, from single barrel cannon to missile batteries. It is also necessary to eliminate the command and control facilities that direct anti-aircraft and other tactical operations. The U.S. provided its own cruise missile and Elint capabilities while Britain aided in cruise missile strikes from submarine platforms. France has provided attack aircraft to strike Libya, as has Great Britain.

Now the Arab League is dismayed at the extent of damage:

“Arab League criticises air strikes on Libya

Headlines Today Bureau
Cairo, March 21, 2011
Updated 10:52 IST

The Arab League on Sunday criticised military strikes on Libya by the US-led allied forces.

Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa, who had earlier supported the idea of a no-fly zone, on Monday criticised the severity of the bombardment.

"What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians. From the start we requested only that a no-fly zone be set up to protect Libyan civilians and avert any other developments or additional measures," Moussa said.

His comments attained significance as the Arab League's backing was a key factor in getting the UN Security Council to authorise the move.

What did they expect?

The Arab League seems to be divorced from reality of modern politics and modern warfare. They apparently have no understanding of the fact that modern armies will not deploy their aircraft into territories where they will be fired upon by both hostile and “friendly” forces without taking every step to obliterate those forces in order to assure the safety of aircrews and the integrity of aircraft. Bombast is not a significant part of the arsenal of Western armies. When Western armies set out to eliminate aircraft from a geographic region they don’t stop until all aspects of the job are completed.

Somehow, the Arab league must have dreamed of a world in which the Libyan air force and army would simply throw down their weapons and cease making war upon Libyans after being commanded to do so by the UN. Historically Arab dictators have not relinquished power without being carried off in chains. Egypt and Tunisia are marked exceptions to the common practice.

After unanimously endorsing the need for a no fly zone, Arab states are now refusing to take part in implementing the resolution. Arab aircraft have flown no sorties, dropped no bombs, and launched no missiles against Libyan forces and facilities. Nor are they likely to do so, hiding behind their expressed desire to avoid killing Arab civilians. That is pretty much what I have expected from the beginning. Khadaffi is now screaming that this action is a Western attack upon Islam and upon Muslim nations. Before the week is over this will be echoed by multiple Arab states.

We, the U.S., British, Canadians, French, and any other Western nation currently protecting Libyan citizens by placing our troops and equipment between civilians and military should stand down immediately. The Arab states wanted this no fly zone. We’ve already done the hard and expensive work. Let the various Arab states pick up the shovel and complete the job they demanded of us. I doubt seriously it will happen. They can all fly their planes into the ground, or lose them to “friendly “fire.

As for the GOP/teavangelists who see this as an opportunity to force their religion on other people, I’m certain that Sarah Palin would be thrilled to lead them into Libya on the ground, as “prayer warriors.” She wants foreign policy credentials; let her earn them in Libya.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

20 March 2011 The Ignorance Abroad

“The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress is a travel book by American author Mark Twain published in 1869 which humorously chronicles what Twain called his "Great Pleasure Excursion" on board the chartered vessel Quaker City (formerly USS Quaker City) through Europe and the Holy Land with a group of American travelers in 1867. It was the best selling of Twain's works during his lifetime and one of the best selling travel books of all time.”

“At first blush, Innocents Abroad is an ordinary travel book. It is based on an actual event, in a retired Civil War ship (the USS Quaker City). The excursion upon which the book is based was billed as a Holy Land expedition, with numerous stops along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as a train excursion from Marseilles, France to Paris for the 1867 Paris Exhibition, and a side trip through the Black Sea to Odessa, all before the ultimate pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

“Twain recorded his observations and critiques of various aspects of culture and society he met on the journey, some more serious than others, which gradually turned from witty and comedic to biting and bitter as he drew closer to the Holy Land. Interestingly, once in the Holy Land proper, his tone shifted again, this time to a combination light-hearted comedy and a reverence not unlike what he had previously mocked in his traveling companions…”

Compare to this work of American literature if you will, the trials of on former Alaskan Governor as she is moved about the globe in the care of political handlers who make certain that she never has to form any associations between the nations she visits – tangentially at best – and their culture, society, and history. Palin failed to see the Taj Mahal but did manage to visit a shopping mall for the elite of India. Time for new campaign clothes, paid for by her PAC? Apparently, the elitists of India are acceptable while those of the U.S. have the good sense to avoid paying to listen to the ghostwritten words she parrots.

Twain made observations about the places and people he visited. Palin arrives on the shores of India with a pre-packaged speech that would be best delivered to a lobbyist group or potential financial contributors. She serves the GOP/teavangelist lobby by delivering their fear of China’s navy. She simultaneously serves China and India by denouncing “Green” job investment and proclaiming her “Rape the Earth policy toward the ecology.

“On Libya she said, "It would have been different." Remarking that the U.S. has a tradition of not criticizing the president's foreign policy on "foreign soil," she continued, "Certainly, there would have been more decisiveness, more commitment to those that are freedom fighters that they know that America is on their side.”

"There would have been more decisiveness, less dithering," Palin stated.”

Obviously, she fails to understand what is entailed in such a policy as well as here utter lack of the military situation in and around Libya.

She is headed next to Israel to confer with PM Netanyahu concerning the problems facing “our great ally.” She apparently needs to hear this from Netanyahu, as if it will differ from any of the briefing papers, she was given by the McCain campaign and apparently, predictably, declined to read. Given her teavangelist view of the world, she has no real concept of what being Israeli, or Jewish, means to Israelis and to other Jews. At some time during or shortly after her stop in Israel, she will undoubtedly find some way to proclaim herself a Holocaust survivor. She will most likely blame the Israeli left for not supporting the claim to “Greater Israel. She will spew some misinformed statement about Israelis and non-orthodox American Jews preventing the 2nd coming.

Keep her away from the Western Wall and any place of cultural or historical import. Better yet, send her to Libya. Let her gain foreign policy “credentials” by boring and annoying Khadafy to the point of no return. Hers, that is. Keep her ignorance abroad.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

19 March 2011 Ink levels may not be accurate

When I filed our income taxes, I printed out the customary hard copy to file and ignore. This was the time my J5780 all-in-one scanner/fax/copier chose to demonstrate its power over the household. It began printing properly and midway through the first page the print quality became nearly unreadable. Of course, I have two e-copies saved and those both can be used to generate hard copies in the future if needed.

We have, currently, four printers in the house.

One, no longer in service but usable, is currently hiding in a closet with other hardware.

One, received at no cost with a purchase I don’t recall, waits in its box to be called to duty. The newest printer, Gloria’s HP Photosmart Premium C309g-m, prints scans, and copies. It uses the newer and more expensive generation of ink cartridges. It prints well but does not fax.

The J5780 on my desk is seldom used to print documents other than letters to Congressional office holders. It uses the older ink cartridges, copies, scans, and faxes in addition to offending members of Congress. Since 2006, when we moved to Cassi Creek we may have sent five faxes and received, perhaps, three, almost all related to medical records. But it is 20 miles to the nearest fax-for-hire, which is, incidentally, also the nearest place to purchase new ink cartridges. Only the potential need to fax something in the middle of a blizzard on a high holiday when everything in the Bible belt is locked up awaiting the rapture keeps me from taking it out of service.

I’m faced today with the question of replacing the black ink cartridge on the rapidly approaching antique that demands space on my desk. I can mail order /purchase on line and pay exorbitant shipping costs for a 0.5-pound item. I can drive to buy a new cartridge at an in-store price that will barely exceed the cost of the gasoline used on the trip. Alternatively, I can ignore the lack of ink and use Gloria’s printer for insulting Congress.

There is a cartridge refill store near campus that I may visit Monday or Tuesday. The price of printer ink for inkjet printers is only slightly less dear than 24-carat gold. I’m not going to be surprised when I see some aging actor appear in a commercial about investing in ink. I wonder if we can convince speculators to quit running up the price of oil/barrel in order to run up the price of ink/cartridge.

In the mean time, it amazes me how the ink cartridge measurement is always falsely higher than the actual ink content.  The more important a print job, the more likely the cartridge to run out of ink.  It reminds me of the old dash board clocks in Detroit cars that seemed to be designed to fail at 11:57PM on New Years Eve.  Hard to beat American engineering!

Friday, March 18, 2011

18 March 2011 It’s a Mystere to me. Or, Pull over at that Mirage, we need to walk the camel.

Be Ruthless or Stay Out


Published: March 17, 2011

LONDON — For years I watched a “no-fly zone” in Bosnia. I watched Bosnian Muslims being slaughtered as NATO patrolled the skies. The no-fly zone was created by the United Nations Security Council in October 1992. The Srebrenica massacre took place in July 1995. Enough said.

While we may not be able to resist the GOP’s mad dash to yet another war in a Muslim nation. I was pleased to see France proclaim its intent to bring military force into the Libyan situation.

The French Air Force (Armée de l'Air (ALA), literally Army of the Air) will field various models of the Dassault Mirage 2000 and the Dassault Rafale

, in order to fly BARCAP missions over Libya. These aircraft can be refueled in mid air for extended flight time. The Dassault company has a long history of providing France with high capability fighters. The Dassault MD.454 Mystère IV was a 1950s French fighter-bomber aircraft, the first transonic aircraft to enter service in French Air Force. While these no longer fly for France, they could most likely be flown effectively against the current Libyan air force.

The Libyan air force fields various Soviet era MiG, Sukhoi airframes. They also may field Soko J-21 Jastreb, from Yugoslavia Aero L-39 Albatros from Czechoslovakia . They have a Dassault Mirage or two. While they possess a fair sized air force, the Soviet air frames were what the Soviets referred to as monkey copies – intended for the least capable air forces, lacking anything but the basic aeronautics and armament capability. France limited what capabilities Dassault could export just as the U.S. limits our aerospace firms from selling our top-level technology to other nations.

The U.S. may provide AWAC coverage using either USAF land-based planes or USN carrier-based planes. That type of support would leave our troops least exposed to hostile and/or friendly fire. Any Western planes that fly into Libyan air space will more likely than not be at greater risk from “friendly” fire than from hostile.

The GOP/teahadists are trying to cut every social safety net in sight as well as NPR, Planned Parenthood, and Head Start. They scream about the cost of health care while letting corporate health care write any regulations they want. They can’t hand Wall Street enough deregulation. But in the midst of budget gutting, they line up in lockstep to spend another billion or so each day invading Arab nations.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

17 March 2011 Drink to ol’ Jim Bridger

Income taxes completed and filed.

We intend to have corned beef with cabbage for dinner tonight. The crock pot, which worked wonderfully, or at least, acceptably Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to produce overnight oatmeal, refused to produce any heat to the ceramic bowl this morning. The dinner meal is now braising in a 5 quart sauté pan on the stovetop. I’ll add the cabbage about 1630.

There is a loaf of what could become soda bread in the oven now. I rarely bake so this will be whatever it chooses to be. Since newly baked bread with butter is highly addictive the small loaf will likely not survive past Friday breakfast.

Hamilton Beach, importers of the slow cooker not in use, will replace it. They did so about 4 months earlier when the previous HB slow cooker began overheating. This time we will have to pay $12.50 in shipping. They will also provide a different model in the same price range. We use the slow cooker frequently so we need to replace it The question becomes with which made-in-China, labeled-in-America product from what store. I’ll discuss this with Gloria when she gets home.

Today is the anniversary of Jim Bridger’s birth.

I think very highly of him, He deserved much more recognition and acclaim than he received in his life. Often the case.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

16 March 2011 Strontium and Cesium – put a glow in their cheeks

"Morning Dew", also known as "(Walk Me Out in the) Morning Dew", is a post-apocalyptic folk-rock song written by Canadian singer Bonnie Dobson in 1962.

According to Dobson in a 1993 interview, "Morning Dew" was inspired by the film On the Beach.

Caesium-137 is water-soluble and chemically toxic in small amounts. The biological behavior of caesium-137 is similar to that of potassium and rubidium. After entering the body, cesium is more or less uniformly distributed through the body, with higher concentration in muscle tissues and lower in bones. The biological half-life of cesium is rather short at about 70 days.[4] Experiments with dogs showed that a single dose of 3800 μCi/kg (approx. 44 μg/kg of caesium-137) is lethal within three weeks

Strontium-90 is a "bone seeker" that exhibits biochemical behavior similar to calcium, the next lighter Group 2 element. After entering the organism, most often by ingestion with contaminated food or water, about 70-80% of the dose is excreted. Virtually all remaining strontium-90 is deposited in bones and bone marrow, with the remaining 1% remaining in blood and soft tissues. Its presence in bones can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia. Exposure to 90Sr can be tested by a bioassay, most commonly by urinalysis.

Together with cesium isotopes 134Cs, 137Cs, and iodine isotope 131I it was among the most important isotopes regarding health impacts after the Chernobyl disaster.

In my youth, the problem of strontium 90 and other fallout isotopes produced by open-air nuclear weapons testing was a matter of great concern. Strontium 90 was deposited onto pasturelands and consumed by cattle. The isotope replaced calcium in milk produced by animals that grazed on contaminated foliage. The dairy industry found itself selling nuclear poisons.

The great fear in that era was of nuclear war. Both the U.S and the USSR owned sufficient warheads to destroy the world multiple times. Dobson’s song dealt with the disaster of nuclear war and fallout from nuclear weapons that rendered the ground lethal to humans. On the Beach dealt with the same theme.

After the disasters at Three Mile Island and at Chernobyl, the concern included industrial accident through natural disaster or OFU. Both Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were OFUs compounded by corporate and bureaucratic lies, concealment, and disregard for the lives of employees and the surrounding populace.

The threat of large scale nuclear war is lessened compared to the 2nd half of the 20th century. The threat of nuclear war still exists and cannot be ignored. But the apparent greater risk now seems to be from commercial power reactors. The damage to the Fukushima reactors on 11 March points out the serious nature of governmental failure to oversee nuclear plants run by corporations. Even in Japan, where the culture would seem to lessen gun decking safety inspections and emergency drills, corporate lack of concern for the public has fallen prey to greed and corporate malfeasance. Now a sizeable number of Japanese and emergency volunteers from other nations have been exposed to medically significant doses of radiation. A large geographic region has been rendered un-livable for a decade or more. The atmosphere and watershed, as well as the ocean have been heavily contaminated.

While the levels of fallout that will reach North America are predicted, at this time, to be insignificant, fallout will make its way here on stratospheric winds. If the following days provide knowledge of greater plant damage and radiation dispersal, those estimates of our safety may need upward division.

My first callous response is that,” I don’t drink milk, I’m not worried.” However, I eat a lot of cheese and yogurt. In some forms that places me at higher risk of intake than if I drank milk. The situation needs close monitoring. Our government needs to make sure all our reactors are being maintained according to design specifications and that all emergency procedures and backup systems are fully operational. /Our lives may depend upon it. I don’t trust any for-profit corporation to be concerned for people.

The best vocal/instrumental performance of Morning Dew took place at Winterland on 6-7-77. Find a copy and listen to the band treat Terrapin Station > Morning Dew as it should be. Very baroque, Bach would approve.

Cue “The Grateful Dead.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

15 March 2011 Beware the ides of March

“Beware the tides of March!”

Beware the tides of marshes.

Blame it upon Shakespeare; it’s too good a line to ignore. It’s too inviting to use un-changed.

The Japanese were handed an earthquake of epic proportion, followed by a tsunami that created new records for statisticians and geo-scientists to catalogue and manipulate, hopefully for centuries, until the next “biggest and worst” event occurs.

Our modern world demands ever-increasing amounts of electrical power. We meet this, primarily by burning coal, oil, and natural gas. We add hydroelectric generation, wind, and solar generated power to lesser extents. An increasing amount of power is generated by nuclear reactors in first world nations and in some developing nations.

All of these sources have faults and are potentially harmful to the world in one or more manners. Auth describes the problem quite simply:

Coal mining is costly in terms of lives. Those miners who avoid death underground die of mining related diseases. The waste products of coal destroy forests, pollute air, water, and destroy wildlife. The mining process is destructive to the environment as entire mountains are scraped from the planet’s surface and discarded to reach coal seams.

Drilling for oil is destructive of land, air, and oceans. Local water sources are polluted and private water wells rendered non-potable. Natural gas production has many of the same hazards.

Hydroelectric and wind farms disrupt wildlife. Dammed rivers prevent returning to spawn. Wind turbines are known to kill birds.

Japan is currently experiencing a nuclear accident involving three reactors that failed to shut down as designed due to loss of back-up power to maintain coolant flow. The scenario is reminiscent of the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in Pennsylvania. There have been several releases of radiation from the Japanese site.

The Fukushima reactors were designed well at the time of their construction. Earthquake damage was anticipated and the plants were constructed to strict standards. The fatal event at Fukushima was the tsunami that obliterated all electrical service, backup service and prevented rapid response by emergency crews when they were called for. It appears that the Japanese did everything possible in correct manner to avoid disaster and were simply defeated by the sheer magnitude of the combined quake/tsunami event.

There is no nation on earth with greater fear of nuclear accidents than Japan. There is, likely, no nation on earth that could have and did respond to such events in so orderly and patient manner as the Japanese. To date, there have been no reports of looting. The normal politeness instilled in Japanese from infancy is very much in evidence as they begin to affect the recovery from an immense natural disaster, linked to a financial emergency, and the radiologic nightmare that will reshape Japan in the next decade.

This will undoubtedly become the most studied and best-documented quake/tsunami in history. The various national SAR agencies are involved using robots to allow access where human safety prohibits human access. The nuclear event will also be highly documented. There appears to have been no attempt at all to conceal the event from Japanese authorities or from the surrounding populace. The lessons learned at Fukushima will help prevent similar failures in the future.

The Russian accident at Chernobyl was a disaster waiting to happen from inception. The design is inherently flawed and operation followed the typical Soviet pattern of poorly trained, poorly maintained, magical thinking that resulted in numerous nuclear accidents aboard Soviet naval vessels at sea and/or in naval yards. These lessons have been taken to heart by Western nations. So have those from Three Mile Island.

There is a highly successful reactor design and construction program that should become the model for all future reactors and reactor operations. Since its inception in 1948, the U.S. Navy nuclear program has developed 27 different plant designs, installed them in 210 nuclear powered ships, taken 500 reactor cores into operation, and accumulated over 5,400 reactor years of operation and 128,000,000 miles safely steamed. Additionally, 98 nuclear submarines and six nuclear cruisers have been recycled. The U.S. Navy has never experienced a reactor accident.

The redundancy and over-engineering insisted upon by Admiral Rickover and his design and operations teams has resulted in safe reactor systems that are designed to endure usage and to contain the backup systems needed for emergency shutdowns and restarts. If the reactors at Fukushima had been up-sized NR models the winds over Japan would not be carrying radioactive particulates and the tides would not be distributing radiation to the ocean.

(Cue Godzilla)

Monday, March 14, 2011

14 March 2011 Spring break sprung

We return to classes today. As much as I enjoy the chance to learn, I found it very difficult to roll out of bed this morning.

Today is also the first workday since DST was implemented. The concept of DST was to save energy by allowing as much work as possible to be accomplished without using electricity. The nature of work for most of us has changed sufficiently from the era of WWI as to render this all but invalid. Even at high noon, local time, if we work indoors we burn lamps to see. I used to adapt to the time changes rather easily. Somewhere around age 55, I lost that easy adaptation.

There is also the fact that I sleep very well next to Gloria. Dragging one’s self from a comfortable, happily shared bed should be difficult. It is.

The current events in the Pacific tied into my Volcanology class very well. We began hearing Dr. Gregg’s report of his trip to Kilauea and the National Volcano Observatory. That covered the existing eruptions and the new linear vent development. We also spent about half the class discussing the 11 Mar earthquake and tsunami. These horrible events actually have direct links to Volcanology. The Ring of Fire is extremely active now and may become even more so. I was sorry to see class end this morning. There was more participation in the class than I’ve noticed so far. I may follow this semester with a Natural Hazards course if Gregg teaches it next fall.

The conflict in Libya is still unresolved. Compared to the nightmare in Japan, Libya is of no great concern beyond its geographic and cultural region. The Arab League has opted to support a no fly zone if it is not enforced by a NATO agent. They want Khadafy stopped if it is not done by a Western state and if they don’t have to do it. They will object to a U.S. enforced no fly zone almost as vociferously as I will. They will not act to implement such a solution using either a single Arab nation’s airpower or that of an Arab coalition. Thus, nothing will be done to stop Khadafy’s use of airpower against civilians. The Arabs will complain that they are proscribed from killing other Muslims. They will also complain that the Western nations won’t support their needs in the matter. No changes seem to be coming from that quarter.

Japan is sitting on the potentiality of a triple core dirty bomb. With three nuclear plants in the first stages of core meltdown and no way to affect repairs to allow introduction of core coolant, there is little else that can be done except population evacuation. The introduction of sea water into the plant is an indication of how desperate the situation has become. Those reactors and their supporting structure are never going to generate power again.

It may be time for commercial power companies to look at the design specs used to construct and operate U.S. Navy reactors. Those over engineered systems demanded by Rickover have stood the test of time and hard usage. They were built for performance, safety, and longevity, not for power production by low-bid builders and operators. Nuclear power is necessary to our future power consumption. Like anything else corporations become involved in, the greed factor always over-rides safety.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

13 March 2011 Our troops can’t afford any more of your honor, Mr. Roe“

Roe Continues to Advocate for Veterans

U.S. House passes legislation honoring our servicemembers

Washington, Nov 3, 2009 -

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (TN-1), a Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, voted for legislation that continues to support and honor our veterans.

“I am proud to support and advocate on behalf of our servicemembers, who so tirelessly fought for the freedom of our nation,” said Roe. “Next Wednesday we will celebrate Veterans Day, which is a very important holiday because it is reserved to honor our military veterans. As a veteran and a Member of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, I am committed to ensuring our veterans receive the best possible care, benefits and opportunities possible. I believe that’s our duty as a nation.”

In 2011, the House further honors our service men and women. The GOP acts to render more service men and women homeless. The debt involved in securing homes for military personnel, families, and veterans is too great to absorb. Nevertheless, the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy are perfectly acceptable to the GOP and teahadists. Something is just not right in that equation.

HR 836:

Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act - Rescinds and permanently cancels all unobligated funding remaining available under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act for the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program. Terminates the program.

Directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to study: (1) the extent to which the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program is used by homeowners who are active duty members of the Armed Forces (or their spouses or parents), veterans, or Gold Star-eligible widows, parents, or next of kin of Armed Forces members who died in military operations; and (2) the impact of the program on such homeowners.

The Democrats asked that this be continued in light of the high rate of foreclosure among veterans, active duty, and other military personnel including Gold Star eligible. Last year, 20,000 active duty personnel, reservists, and veterans lost their homes. Voting with the GOP bloc to deny financial support to our active duty troops and our veterans, Phillip Roe. Which part of “the best possible care, benefits and opportunities possible” is becoming homeless while on active duty, Mr. Roe?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

12 March 2011 GOP commands the waves stand still

The death tolls in Japan are still rising. It is easily evident how many more might have died without the slight warning provided them by the Japanese monitoring agencies that exist to prevent loss of life in earthquakes and tsunamis. On our side of the Pacific Ocean, the tsunami still retained sufficient power to damage and kill. Our warning systems were employed in Hawaii, Alaska, and on the U.S. mainland. This was among the largest quakes ever documented. It will be one of the most studied and will provide tremendous amounts of information to geologists. Japan is poised to take advantage of what they learn.

Here, we will likely ignore most of it as “job killing” if the current GOP/teavangelists have their way. After all, taking care of the wealthy is more important than saving lives of common people.

Japan has recognized its particular vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunami. As a nation and as a society they have planned to minimize damage and maximize recovery. They realize that such tasks require heavy involvement by their government. At the same time, and in the face of numerous recent examples of why they should not proceed as planned, the GOP/teavangelists are planning to defund our government’s tsunami warning and research programs.

I wonder how many of them own 2nd homes and/or rental properties on beaches. I wonder how many of them will demand their buildings be rebuilt by taxpayer funded insurance plans. Just another payoff to the ultra-rich by the Congress they own.

In fact, the earthquake was so powerful that it caused some major geological changes. Scientists from the United States Geological Service (USGS) shared some startling information while answering questions from the public today.

• Earth’s axis has reportedly shifted 10 inches as a result of the quake

• Japan’s coast is said to have permanently shifted 2.4 meters

• 100+ aftershocks measuring 5.0 magnitude or more have hit Japan following the initial quake

• The quake was 900 times stronger than the one that hit San Francisco in 1989

• Shaking was felt as far away as China

• St. Louis, Missouri media outlets are reporting the city has moved an inch as a result of the quake

• Waves from the tsunami caused by the quake reached 32 feet

via The Vancouver Sun

It was a massive earthquake with some suggesting that they might have to revise the power of the quake upward from8.9 to 9.1.

The Pacific plate was displaced 18 meters. There is preliminary suggestion that the magnitude of the quake should be upgraded from 8.9 to 9.0.

Note the confusion in various reports. This morning I’ve seen statements indicating that Earth’s axis shifted as little as 10 cm to as much as 25 cm. Neither extreme will produce an impact noticeable by humans without high-powered instrumentation. Nor will it affect our lives in any manner unless we lived in the damage zones. Most of us are fortunate to experience this disaster only vicariously.

Japan's quake shifts earth's axis by 25 cm

News Services March 12, 2011

Initial results out of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology show that the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rattled Japan Friday shifted the earth's rotation axis by about 25 centimetres.

INGV's report, which came hours after the devastating incident, is equivalent to "very, very tiny" changes that won't be seen for centuries, though, Canadian geologists say.

Only after centuries would a second be lost as each day is shortened by a millionth of a second, according to University of Toronto geology professor Andrew Miall.

"Ten inches sounds like quite a lot when you hold a ruler in front of you. But if you think of it in terms of the earth as a whole, it's absolutely tiny; it's minute," he said.

"It's going to make minute changes to the length of a day. It could make very, very tiny changes to the tilt of the earth, which affects the seasons, but these effects are so small, it'd take very precise satellite navigation to pick it up."

Read more:

The task of measuring the displacement of the Japanese coast is not overly difficult. We have the capability and new maps will be produced to reflect the change. Displacement of St, Louis MO won’t really require new maps. It does, however, speak to the amount of energy involved in the quake.


Below lie facts, figures, charts, & dry equations

The volume, mass, and mass density of the planet are:

Volume, 1.08321×1012 km3, [ Mass, 5.9736×1024 kg] Mean density, 5.515 g/cm3.

These can be plugged into very complex equations to determine the forces involved.

The moment magnitude scale (abbreviated as MMS; denoted as MW) is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released.[1] The magnitude is based on the moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of the area that slipped.[2] The scale was developed in the 1970s to succeed the 1930s-era Richter magnitude scale (ML). Even though the formulae are different, the new scale retains the familiar continuum of magnitude values defined by the older one. The MMS is now the scale used to estimate magnitudes for all modern large earthquakes by the United States Geological Survey


The symbol for the moment magnitude scale is Mw, with the subscript w meaning mechanical work accomplished. The moment magnitude Mw is a dimensionless number defined by

where M0 is the magnitude of the seismic moment in dyne centimeters (10−7 N•m).[1] The constant values in the equation are chosen to achieve consistency with the magnitude values produced by earlier scales, most importantly the Local Moment (or "Richter") scale.

As with the Richter scale, an increase of one step on this logarithmic scale corresponds to a 101.5 ≈ 32 times increase in the amount of energy released, and an increase of two steps corresponds to a 103 = 1000 times increase in energy.

Comparative energy released by two earthquakes

A closely related formula, obtained by solving the previous equation for M0, allows one to assess the proportional difference fΔE in energy release between earthquakes of two different moment magnitudes, say m1 and m2:

Radiated seismic energy

Potential energy is stored in the crust in the form of built-up stress. During an earthquake, this stored energy is transformed and results in

• cracks and deformation in rocks

• heat,

• radiated seismic energy Es.

The seismic moment M0 is a measure of the total amount of energy that is transformed during an earthquake. Only a small fraction of the seismic moment M0 is converted into radiated seismic energy Es, which is what seismographs register. Using the estimate

Choy and Boatwright defined in 1995 the energy magnitude [4]

Older values can be found in a table equating destruction to similar effects caused by tons of TNT.

Richter magnitudes examples

The following table lists the approximate energy equivalents in terms of TNT explosive force[9] – though note that the energy is that released underground (i.e. a small atomic bomb blast will not simply cause light shaking of indoor items) rather than the overground energy release. Most energy from an earthquake is not transmitted to and through the surface; instead, it dissipates into the crust and other subsurface structures.


Approximate Magnitude Approximate TNT for

Seismic Energy Yield Joule equivalent Example

0.0 15.0 g (0.529 oz) 63.1 kJ

0.5 84.4 g (2.98 oz) 355 kJ Large hand grenade

1.0 474 g (1.05 lb) 2.00 MJ Construction site blast

1.5 2.67 kg (5.88 lb) 11.2 MJ World War II conventional bombs

2.0 15.0 kg (33.1 lb) 63.1 MJ Late World War II conventional bombs

2.5 84.4 kg (186 lb) 355 MJ World War II blockbuster bomb

3.0 474 kg (1.05×103 lb) 2.00 GJ Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb

3.5 2.67 metric tons 11.2 GJ Chernobyl nuclear disaster, 1986

4.0 15.0 metric tons 63.1 GJ Small atomic bomb

4.3 42.3 metric tons 117.0 GJ Kent Earthquake (Britain), 2007

4.5 84.4 metric tons 355 GJ Tajikistan earthquake, 2006

5.0 474 metric tons 2.00 TJ Seismic yield of Nagasaki atomic bomb (Total yield including air yield 21 kT, 88 TJ)

Lincolnshire earthquake (UK), 2008

Ontario-Quebec earthquake (Canada), 2010[10][11]

5.5 2.67 kilotons 11.2 TJ Little Skull Mtn. earthquake (Nevada, USA), 1992

Alum Rock earthquake (California, USA), 2007

Chino Hills earthquake (Los Angeles, USA), 2008

5.6 3.77 gigacalories 15.8 TJ Newcastle Earthquake Australia, 1989

6.0 15.0 kilotons 62.7 TJ Double Spring Flat earthquake (Nevada, USA), 1994

6.3 42.3 kilotons 178 TJ Rhodes earthquake (Greece), 2008

Christchurch earthquake (New Zealand), 2011

6.4 59.7 kilotons 251 TJ Kaohsiung earthquake (Taiwan), 2010

6.5 84.4 kilotons 355 TJ Caracas earthquake (Venezuela), 1967

Eureka earthquake (California, USA), 2010

6.6 119 kilotons 501 TJ San Fernando earthquake (California, USA), 1971

6.7 168 kilotons 708 TJ Northridge earthquake (California, USA), 1994

6.8 238 kilotons 1.00 PJ Nisqually earthquake (Anderson Island, WA), 2001

Gisborne earthquake (Gisborne, NZ), 2007

6.9 336 kilotons 1.41 PJ San Francisco Bay Area earthquake (California, USA), 1989

Pichilemu earthquake (Chile), 2010

7.0 474 kilotons 2.00 PJ Java earthquake (Indonesia), 2009

Haiti earthquake, 2010

7.1 670 kilotons 2.82 PJ San Juan earthquake (Argentina), 1944

Canterbury earthquake (New Zealand), 2010

7.2 938 kilotons 3.98 PJ Vrancea earthquake (Romania), 1977

Baja California earthquake (Mexico), 2010

7.5 2.67 megatons 11.2 PJ Kashmir earthquake (Pakistan), 2005

Antofagasta earthquake (Chile), 2007

7.8 7.52 megatons 31.6 PJ Tangshan earthquake (China), 1976

Hawke's Bay earthquake (New Zealand), 1931

Luzon earthquake (Philippines), 1990

Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia), 2010

8.0 15.0 megatons 63.1 PJ Mino-Owari earthquake (Japan), 1891

San Juan earthquake (Argentina), 1894

San Francisco earthquake (California, USA), 1906

Queen Charlotte Islands earthquake (British Columbia, Canada), 1949

México City earthquake (Mexico), 1985

Gujarat earthquake (India), 2001

Chincha Alta earthquake (Peru), 2007

Sichuan earthquake (China), 2008

8.1 21.2 megatons 89.1 PJ Guam earthquake, August 8, 1993[12]

8.35 (approx.) 50 megatons 210 PJ

Tsar Bomba - Largest thermonuclear weapon ever tested

8.5 84.4 megatons 355 PJ Toba eruption 75,000 years ago; among the largest known volcanic events.

Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia), 2007

8.7 168 megatons 708 PJ Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia), 2005

1883 eruption of Krakatoa

8.8 238 megatons 1.00 EJ Chile earthquake, 2010

8.9 336 megatons 1.41 EJ Japan earthquake, 2011

9.0 474 megatons 2.00 EJ Lisbon Earthquake (Portugal), All Saints Day, 1755

Sendai earthquake (Japan), 2011[14]

9.2 946 megatons 3.98 EJ Anchorage earthquake (Alaska, USA), 1964

9.3 1.34 gigatons 5.62 EJ Indian Ocean earthquake, 2004

9.5 2.67 gigatons 11.2 EJ Valdivia earthquake (Chile), 1960

10.0 15.0 gigatons 63.1 EJ Never recorded

12.55 100 teratons 422 ZJ Yucatán Peninsula impact (creating Chicxulub crater) 65 Ma ago (108 megatons; over 4x1030 ergs = 400 ZJ

Friday, March 11, 2011

11 March 2011 Wonder why they call it “Midway?”

This morning brought sights and sounds of the incredible destruction caused by the 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan. The nature of communications and broadcast journalism allowed us to see actual video of the event as it occurred. The amount of structural survival proves that the Japanese have been successful at mitigating some forms of damage via engineering and regulation. The overwhelming impact of the subsequent tsunami proves that we are a long way from engineering our survival as a species.

I was watching the reports from Japan on CNN, listening to the countdown as the tsunami approached Hawaii. The meteorology reporter made the statement that they could somewhat predict how much damage Hawaii could expect based upon the damage at Midway Atoll. I was amazed to hear the “anchor,” Kiran Chetry, ask where Midway is.

Sixty-nine years ago the U.S. and Japan fought a great battle over the Coral Sea and then another over Midway. The nature of naval warfare made a quantum change from the dreadnought/heavy battleship fleets to the aircraft carrier fleets. The opposing fleets at Coral Sea never sighted each other except via their aircraft. The battle of Midway, as well as the earlier battle of Coral Sea turned back Japanese forces from the Hawaiian chain and from Australia. The destruction of the Japanese carriers at Midway marked the reversal of Japanese expansion in the Pacific.

Midway is the northern most and western most point in the Hawaiian archipelago. It sits about 1/3 of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo, about halfway between the U.S west coast and Japan’s east coast. Hence the name “Midway Atoll.”

“Midway Atoll is part of a chain of volcanic islands, atolls, and seamounts extending from Hawai'i up to the tip of the Aleutian Islands and known as the Hawaii-Emperor chain. Midway was formed roughly 28 million years ago when the seabed underneath it was over the same hotspot from which the Island of Hawai'i is now being formed. In fact, Midway was once a shield volcano perhaps as large as the island of Lana'i. As the volcano piled up lava flows building the island, its weight depressed the crust and the island slowly subsided over a period of millions of years, a process known as isostatic adjustment. As the island subsided, a coral reef around the former volcanic island was able to maintain itself near sea level by growing upwards. That reef is now over 516 ft (160 m) thick (Ladd, Tracey, & Gross, 1967; in the lagoon, 1,261 feet (384 m), comprised mostly post-Miocene limestones with a layer of upper Miocene (Tertiary g) sediments and lower Miocene (Tertiary e) limestones at the bottom overlying the basalts. What remains today is a shallow water atoll about 6 miles (10 km) across.

The atoll has some 20 miles (32 km) of roads, 4.8 miles (7.8 km) of pipelines, one port on Sand Island (World Port Index Nr. 56328, MIDWAY ISLAND), and one active runway (rwy 06/24, around 8,000 feet (2,400 m) long). As of 2004, Henderson Field airfield at Midway Atoll has been designated as an emergency diversion airport for aircraft flying under ETOPS rules. Although the FWS closed all airport operations on November 22, 2004, public access to the island was restored beginning March 2008.[5]

Eastern Island Airstrip is a disused airfield in use by U.S. forces during the Battle of Midway, June 4–6, 1942. It is mostly constructed of Perforated Steel Plate sectional matting, built by the U.S. Navy Seabees.”

“The atoll was sighted on July 5, 1859 by Captain N.C. Middlebrooks, though he was most commonly known as Captain Brooks, of the sealing ship Gambia. The islands were named the "Middlebrook Islands" or the "Brook Islands". Brooks claimed Midway for the United States under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, which authorized Americans to occupy uninhabited islands temporarily to obtain guano. On 28 August 1867, Captain William Reynolds of the USS Lackawanna formally took possession of the atoll for the United States; the name changed to "Midway" some time after this. The atoll became the first Pacific islands annexed by the U.S. government, as the Unincorporated Territory of Midway Island, and administered by the United States Navy. Midway is the only island in the entire Hawaiian archipelago that was not later part of the State of Hawaii.”

“In 1903, workers for the Commercial Pacific Cable Company took up residence on the island as part of the effort to lay a trans-Pacific telegraph cable. These workers introduced many non-native species to the island, including the canary, cycad, Norfolk Island pine, she-oak, coconut, and various deciduous trees, along with ants, cockroaches, termites, centipedes, and countless others.

Later that year, President Theodore Roosevelt placed the atoll under the control of the United States Navy, which on 20 January 1903 opened a radio station in response to complaints from cable company workers about Japanese squatters and poachers. Between 1904 to 1908, Roosevelt stationed 21 Marines on the island to end wanton destruction of bird life and keep Midway safe as a U.S. possession, protecting the cable station.

In 1935, operations began for the China Clippers, flying boats operated by Pan American Airlines. The Clippers island-hopped from San Francisco to China, providing the fastest and most luxurious route to the Orient and bringing tourists to Midway until 1941. Only the extremely wealthy could afford a Clipper trip, which in the 1930s cost more than three times the annual salary of an average American. With Midway on the route between Honolulu and Wake Island, the seaplanes landed in the atoll and pulled up to a float offshore in the lagoon. Tourists transferred to a small powerboat that ferried them to a pier, then rode in "woody" wagons to the Pan Am Hotel or the "Gooneyville Lodge", named after the ubiquitous "Gooney birds" (albatrosses).”

The U.S. Navy assumed control of the Atoll prior to WWII and maintained control of it until the atoll was declared a national wildlife refuse by Clinton and a National Monument by Bush II>

That’s probably more than most people will ever want to know about Midway atoll.

I grew up during the period when news anchors were highly respected individuals with intensive field experience, chosen for their intelligence and integrity, not their physical appearance. I measure today’s “news anchors” against the high standards set by Murrow, Cronkite, Huntly, Kuralt, and the rest of them who viewed news as a public service, not another opportunity to broadcast propaganda. They had a connection with the history of the world that allowed them to compare and contrast the scope of today’s events against a larger and often greater sequence. For Chetry to ask “where is Midway” would be akin to Rather asking, “where is Gettysburg. The significance should be great enough to fix the event in the memory of any news journalist. The “anchor” desk demands more of its occupants than they are willing to provide these days. Physical appearance, sorority membership, cream-puff stories, and filling a slot on Fox News do not offer me any reason to consider one a successor to Cronkite.

Please do your homework at home or off the air, Ms. Chetry. There are many reasons to study history. Please show us you are more than just a face.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 March 2011 Dumb luck and bad luck

The Case for a No-Fly Zone


Published: March 9, 2011

“This is a pretty easy problem, for crying out loud.”

“ For all the hand-wringing in Washington about a no-fly zone over Libya, that’s the verdict of Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff. He flew more than 6,000 hours, half in fighter aircraft, and helped oversee no-fly zones in Iraq and the Adriatic, and he’s currently mystified by what he calls the “wailing and gnashing of teeth” about imposing such a zone on Libya. “

“The secretary of defense, Robert Gates, has said that a no-fly zone would be “a big operation in a big country” and would begin with an attack on Libyan air defense systems. But General McPeak said that the no-fly zone would be imposed over those parts of the country that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi doesn’t control. That may remove the need to take out air defense systems pre-emptively, he said. And, in any case, he noted that the United States operated a no-fly zone over Iraq for more than a decade without systematically eradicating all Iraqi air defense systems in that time.

Cassi Creek: Kristof is appalled at the loss of human life taking place in Libya. He has just cause to be. The use of modern warplanes to attack poorly armed, poorly trained rebels is heinous. To use them against unarmed civilian non-combatants is equally so. It calls to mind the attacks by Italian forces against Ethiopians prior to WWII and to the source for Picasso’s Guernica, painted to memorialize the German-Italian air attack on the Basque town of Guernica in 1937

Libyan air force personnel have crossed a line by attacking civilians. Our concepts of justifiable warfare and our sometimes invocation of the Geneva Accords cause us to object to the deaths and injuries in a conflict we see as greatly mis-matched. The Libyans have also destroyed oil pipelines and other facilities. This is justification for interference by regional nations. If the new Arab regimes want to demonstrate their merit, the problem of Libya is an excellent place for them to begin.

Remember, however, that the concept of winning a war often entails staging an attack with the opposition is not prepared. The American victory in the first Gulf War depended in part upon a carpet-bombing attack upon thousands of Iraqi soldiers dug into sand and dirt, delivered by B-52 aircraft flying out of sight above the targeted Iraqis. We also spent the first shooting days of that war systematically demolishing both communications and anti-aircraft capabilities so that the threat to our aircraft was lessened to the point that we essentially controlled all Iraqi airspace.

While Gen. McPeak is correct, we can affect a no-fly zone; it would be costly in a time of economic recession and could easily result in lives lost due to normal operational hazards.

Sec Gates is correct. We can do it but it then becomes a shooting war, placing our troops in danger and interfering in a civil war that has no clear-cut opposition to the mad Khadaffi. We will gain nothing by interfering in Libya. The Arab world will come to view it as an invasion at some level and they will be aided in that perception by Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the various Islamic extremists who currently oppose our presence and our action in Muslim nations.

The perception presented by McPeak ignores the thing all military pilots know. It doesn’t take a fighter of equal or greater capacity to bring down a warplane. Many pilots have been shot down by a single bullet fired at random by troops on the ground. It’s called a “golden BB.” All it has to do is damage a fuel line, hydraulic line, fuel tank, or engine. The multi-million dollar plane becomes a ballistic object that is unlikely to return to base.

It can happen with a bullet, with shrapnel from AA guns, shrapnel from a SAM, or even from a shoulder-fired SAM. Our pilots would be at equal risk over both Libyan and opposing forces. Neither force can identify our aircraft all that well and will likely shoot at anything they see in the air. We stand a large chance of losing planes and pilots to the untrained and even to the stupid custom of shooting anything possible into the air. Our good intentions would most likely boomerang.

Yes, we can do it. No, we should not. It will cost too much in dollars and lives. The loss of lives in Libya is horrifying but it is a local and regional problem to solve.

We’ve had 1.04 inches of rain today. That’s twice yesterday’s rainfall. Yesterday there was a flood warning but the creek stayed in banks. At 1600, it’s creeping out in the lower parts of our yard. It promised to be an uneasy night once the sun goes down. At some point, this is supposed to become snow and drop 1-6 inches. I’d welcome a week without precipitation.

Dinner tonight is white bean/Italian sausage/soup with greens. I’ve never been that much of a fan of soups for dinner. But the weather and location seem to call for it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

9 March 2011 Fearless Leader lives in Fractured Fairy Tale.

On Libya, too many questions

By George F. Will

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“Today, some Washington voices are calling for U.S. force to be applied, somehow, on behalf of the people trying to overthrow Moammar Gaddafi. Some interventionists are Republicans, whose skepticism about government's abilities to achieve intended effects ends at the water's edge. All interventionists should answer some questions:

“The world would be better without Gaddafi. But is that a vital U.S. national interest? If it is, when did it become so? A month ago, no one thought it was…”

“Could intervention avoid "mission creep"? If grounding Gaddafi's aircraft is a humanitarian imperative, why isn't protecting his enemies from ground attacks?”

“Would it be wise for U.S. military force to be engaged simultaneously in three Muslim nations?

Cassi Creek: Will is far from my favorite columnist. However, in this instance I agree with his position.

There is no clear picture we can display of the expected outcome of this ugly and brutal civil war. We have backed Kadhaffi previously and placed him in both enemy and ally column as it suited his and our purpose. He will attempt to hold power until he sees absolutely no chance that his delusional view of life can be continued. If he self-destructs, it is very likely he will take as many victims with him as possible.

We, the U.S. have no real interests in Libya except oil. The outcome of the current power struggle is best left to others to determine. We don’t know who will become the dominant leader(s) of the various tribes and resistance groups opposing Khadaffi. We are unlikely to have sufficient intelligence resources in place to provide us with accurate and reliable information to base new policy upon. We are best advised to sit back and watch the new Libya shake out of the older Libya.

We have a right wing contingent in D.C that wants to provide weapons to the anti-Kaddafi forces. I am adamantly opposed to arming tribal forces and other such groups. The chance of anti-aircraft weapons winding up in the hands of black marketeers, arms dealers, and ultimately in the hands of Islamic terrorists is extremely high. Excluding the terrorists from the equation the possibility of our weapons being used to down our aircraft or to down civilian aircraft, accidentally or intentionally is too high to risk. I also have no desire to use taxpayer monies to give Libyans weapons that they will stupidly and carelessly shoot into the air in celebration or in braggadocio.

We have no ground forces that can be used to invade Libya for military or for humanitarian purposes. Even medical and other relief missions require high levels of security. Our troops are simply spread too thin already to allow involvement in another foreign war which the nation neither wants nor can afford. Until we are willing to re-institute national service in the armed forces, the teavangelists, teahadists, and other theocons and neocons will have to content their selves with the two “Splendid adventures” we have ongoing in the lands of Islam. It is too bad that they can’t point to Iraq and Afghanistan and trumpet the glorious victory they wanted to use to prove American exceptionalism and to justify their attempts to return to Crusading “against the Moors, Turks, and other targets of the teavangelists.

I’m opposed to engaging our military in Libya. There are European nations, which have greater need to deal with Libya than do we. They are closer, and have much longer relationships with Libya and the other rapidly changing nations of North Africa than does the U.S. While they would be happy to allow us to expend our money and personnel by acting as the mediators and resource for humanitarian aid missions, we should be equally happy to allow them the chance to alter the outcome of this latest war. If there is insufficient glory and political advantage for the EU or its component nations, they have only to wait until the Arabian Peninsula states decide that it is time to leave the 11th Century and tell their rulers so.

Just as we have been warned about becoming involved in a land war in Asia, our military leaders proscribe any such action in Africa. What covert operations we have ongoing in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia should be quietly carried to completion and those troops brought home along with those who currently serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our Fearless Leaders of the right and religious right have outlived their era. It’s time they realize how badly they have fractured the myth of American exceptionalism. Shut the book on that tale.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8 March 2011 Congress, Check your bibles at the door.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's sole Christian minister, is assassinated in Islamabad

By Karin Brulliard and Shaiq Hussain

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, March 3, 2011 ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Pakistan's federal minorities minister, a Christian, was gunned down by suspected Islamist militants in this capital city Wednesday in the second killing this year of a senior government official who had spoken out against the country's stringent anti-blasphemy laws.

A blow to religious freedom in Pakistan

By Michael Gerson

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Events such as the murder of Bhatti elicit a difficult balance of attitudes. Some view every such killing as a confirmation of violence as the essence of Islam, thereby feeding the apocalyptic civilizational struggle that extremists fondly seek. Others, particularly in diplomatic circles, play down or ignore the role of religion in international affairs - an awkward topic on which they know little.

“American leverage in these matters is limited, but it is worth applying what we have - something the Obama administration, to this point, has not done. Its National Security Strategy avoids the topic. It did not appoint an ambassador at large for international religious freedom - a congressionally mandated position - until a year and a half after it took office. (The confirmation of that ambassador, by the way, is now held up by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint.)

Cassi Creek:

International Religious Freedom Report 2008

The Annual Report:

“The purpose of this report is to record the status of respect for religious freedom in every country around the world during the most recent reporting period--July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. Our primary focus is to document the actions of governments--those that repress religious expression, persecute believers, and tolerate violence against religious minorities, as well as those that protect and promote religious freedom. We also address societal attitudes on religion and religious minorities and record positive and negative actions taken by nongovernmental actors. We strive to report fairly and accurately, with sensitivity to the complexity of religious freedom issues…”

“The Department of State monitors religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, implements policies, develops initiatives, funds programs, and actively works bilaterally and multilaterally to foster greater respect for religious freedom…”

“Limits on proselyltization and the ability to choose one's faith remained a concern. Governments, often seeking to protect the beliefs, traditions, and ideology of the majority or dominant religion, took steps to restrict the rights of individuals to proselytize and to change their religion. Some countries, such as Malaysia, Greece, and Israel, continued to enforce laws that curb peaceful proselytizing activities…””

The Office of International Religious Freedom was established by Congress in 1998 under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (H.R. 2431) and its amendment of 1999 (Public Law 106-55).

The Office of the Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS) was established by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004.

According to the website/mission statement, the United States seeks to:

• Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries;

• Assist newly formed democracies in implementing freedom of religion and conscience;

• Assist religious and human rights NGOs in promoting religious freedom;

• Identify and denounce regimes that are severe persecutors of their citizens or others on the basis of religious belief.

This all sounds very noble. We take a stance proclaiming religious freedom for all citizens of all nations. However, the mildly masked purpose appears to be little different from a nationally funded missionary program.

Note the focus on allowing/not allowing proselyltization above. That paragraph defines the office as accurately as anything can. While one should be able to choose or ignore a religion without government interference, there is no reason to insist that missionaries be allowed to roam about knocking on doors or otherwise trolling for converts.

The general mood of far too many Americans includes Islamophobia these days. Islam welcomes converts but has no door-to-door campaign strategy. Judaism does not seek converts, in fact makes it difficult to convert. Buddhism and Hinduism don’t demand access to the public square. The office was not established for any of those faiths.

We hear volumes of commentary describing the Muslim desire to take over the world. We are treated to tirades telling us how a specific mosque is being built to commemorate a battle or other conquest. We as a nation are terrified of Islam, its precepts, and its practitioners. The “victory mosque” is descended from the “victory temples of the Greco-Roman ages and from the spin-off “victory church/cathedral. There’s a reason we “can’t go back to Constantinopolis. Islam is a spin-off of Christianity in many ways.

While the overall goal of the Office of International Religious Freedom is noble, it is not something we should have enacted. Just as our Christian majority objects to Muslims living among them and building a life and culture that ignores Christianity, so do Muslims object to Christians moving into Muslim majority nations. In the face of militant proselyltization by Christian evangelists, they pass restrictive laws limiting the scope of activities that non-Muslims may engage in.

Limiting the ability to choose a faith is wrong for any nation to implement. Limiting proselyltization may be regarded as unwelcome by missionaries and their backers. However, it should be recalled that the Christian churches have a longer history of demanding exclusivity in religion than does Islam.

I agree that the murder of a Christian politician in Pakistan is an atrocity and speaks very poorly of the nation and culture. I would say the same thing if we began to find murdered Islamic politicians in this nation. I’m not certain that we won’t see such heinous assassinations take place here, too.

As a nation, the U.S needs to get out of the missionary trade. It is one thing to suggest democracy, quite another to push it on a new regime. It is entirely wrong to push Christianity disguised as democracy. Our skirts are far from clean and we have no right to meddle in any person’s or nations, religious practices. We need to put our own house and culture in order before we try to re-order the emerging states in the Islamic world.

I didn’t know the Office of International Religious Freedom existed until today. After some research, I know that Congress has been dragged into exporting Christianity. Something else to write my Congressman about.

Congress, you were elected to legislate, not to evangelize. Check your religion at the door and work for the nation, nor for missionary societies.