Wednesday, August 31, 2011

31 August 2011 Another name to hate for posterity

                   If Rep "Cartman" (who knew South Park was in Virginia?) continues to play out his role as the spoiled little brat he is, there may soon be another name, Eric, that will no longer be given to Jewish males.
Eric Cantor’s cake

          In my imagination, Eric Cantor wears a huge blonde wig. It has cute ringlets cascading from the side. A sexy beauty mark has been penciled into his adorable dimple and he talks in a falsetto, sometimes sexy, often not. I have given this person the name of Eric Cantorette, who would answer any request for federal aid with the phrase, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche ” or, as usually rendered in the vicinity of Richmond, Va., “Let them eat cake.”

Eric Cantor Won't Support Hurricane Disaster Funding Without Massive Cuts to First Responders
            In the wake of Hurricane Irene, FEMA is quickly running out of money. Specifically, FEMA’s crucial “disaster-relief fund, used to reimburse local governments and individuals for the costs of cleanup and repairs, is running dangerously low.” Already payments for some projects are being delayed. Early estimates suggest that damage from Irene could exceed $10 billion.
Eric Cantor and the House GOP leadership appear to agree that more funds are needed, but won’t help until President Obama and the Senate agree to more budget cuts. Yesterday on Fox News, Cantor made clear that he would not support any additional funding unless matched with “savings elsewhere…”
“…Cantor’s insistence on budget cuts to off-set any expenditures is a recent phenomenon. During the Bush administration, Cantor supported the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war, and raising the debt limit (five times) without a penny in spending cuts.
          Until recently, America has always realized that natural disaster require massive amounts of manpower, time, resources, cooperation, and concern for one’s fellow citizens. 
          Now, Cantor and his teavangelist associates are once again behaving like school yard bullies, leaving millions of our citizens with none of the rescue and recovery resources that are so desperately needed, while they once again practice their hostage-taken ransom demands. 
          Only well-equipped, well-funded, and well-trained agency(s) can prepare for, mobilize to, effect rescues, and begin the restoration process that such natural disasters demand.  Sending volunteers with no funding, National Guardsmen, Coastguardsmen, and others may accomplish the rescues and serve some ARC hot meals for the folks in local shelters and the volunteers who flock to any such scene to help because it is just the thing to do in a civilized nation.  Now Cantor wants to cut training funding for the very people who are intended to be the local first responders.  That’s likely to result in many more deaths, including the poorly trained local folks who will still place their bodies and lives in hazard for the benefit of folks they often don’t know.
          Holding the nation hostage when it is at need seems to be the new means of advancing the teahadists political agenda.  Now Cantor has a new hostage.  He enjoyed such great financial success (personal, that is) that he is willing to advance to putting the lives of U.S. citizens at risk.
          Infrastructure repairs are, of course, going to be completely out of the question.  Despite the chance for profit among GOP/Teavangelist financial backers, Little Eric won’t sign off on anything not funded by cutting existing government expenditures. 
          I’m willing to suggest that every defense industry in his district and in his home state be immediately de-funded to pay for disaster relief.   Let little Eric contend with hometown industrial CEO’s instead of faceless strangers who can’t benefit him financially. 
          Little Eric is the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives.  There are other Jews in Congress, all Democrats.  It seems apparent that Little Eric did not study carefully and well, the long history of ethical behavior demanded of Jews in their dealings with others since Moses led them out of Egypt.  Instead, Little Eric seems to have looked at the stereotypical anti-Semitic accusations leveled at Jews and decided to adopt them all as his personal lifestyle. 
          The names “Haman” and “Adolph” are never given to Jewish infants for obvious reasons, declared war upon a population with genocidal intent.  The name “Eric” should be added to the unspoken list as he is at obvious war with working and former middle class Americans with intent to enslave them all.

          Looking at what biographical information exists; Little Eric seems to be a spoiled brat, child of privilege who all too well exemplifies the JAP role model.  For fans of South Park, he is interchangeable with “Eric Cartman.  I expect that he was not that popular with his schoolmates.  He probably was physically bullied and may have been shoved into his locker.  It’s too bad for us all that someone let him out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

30 August 2011broken internal alarm

            Today featured an 0920 orthopedic consult regarding my shoulders.   I set the alarm for 0530, thinking that would provide sufficient time to get organized for my astronomy class that follows the trip to VA.  I woke up at 0430, shoulders aching, and never got back to sleep.
            The short route to Johnson City is closed for bridge replacement.  The trip in now consists of narrow county roads with limited visibility and too much traffic or going into Jonesborough and then over to Johnson City.  I left home at 0800. 
            Traffic was light, the stop lights mostly green, and I pulled into a parking spot at VA at 0850.  By 0905 I was checked in, ane by 0910 in the exam room with a new provider.  He felt that another round of steroid injections would be appropriate.  He did bilateral injections and I was free to wander at 0945.  I took advantage of the location to have the optical shop adjust my latest pair of glasses. 
            By 1045 I was parked on campus.  By 1115 I had retrieved my lab manual from the book store.  Again, expecting trouble over internet wi-fi access, I booted up my laptop and watched it connect without hesitation.  All of my waiting in long lines scenarios have vanished.    I decided against buying fast food.  Hunger will keep me from feeling as sleepy as I might.  I found a mostly shady bench near my classroom and sat through two changes of late teen-aged female students who need remedial English classes rather badly.  This semester short-shorts must be in vogue.
            The classroom I will be in is in use in the period preceding my class, so I won’t be sitting in it and writing if I have time to kill before class. 
            Other than the faulty internal clock, it has been rather a fine day.  Dinner will be pork roast, sweet potatoes, and salad. 
            I haven’t taken the time to go through my political sites today.  So, it would help me greatly if you would take it upon your selves to think unkind, factual, and insulting thoughts about Congressmen Eric Cantor of 7th District Virginia, and Phil Roe, 1st district TN.  Don’t worry about overdoing it, these two deserve all the calumny that we can generate.

Monday, August 29, 2011

29 August 2011 Weekly stoning – non-believers welcomed

American Theocracy Revisited
Published: August 28, 2011
            “In this week’s New York Times Magazine, The Times’s outgoing executive editor, Bill Keller, argues that Perry and Bachmann should face tough questions about their religious beliefs. The Republican hopefuls’ associations, he writes, should force us to “confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them.”
            “Keller is absolutely right. The separation of church and state in the United States has never separated religion from politics, and the “private” beliefs of politicians have often had very public consequences. When candidates wear their religion on their sleeve, especially, the press has every right to ask how that faith relates to their political agenda.”
Republicans Against Science
Published: August 28, 201
            “Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Huntsman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us…”
“…Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.
            Krugman warns us of a growing disdain for science leading to disbelief in science among GOP voters.  Teavangelists are already in opposition to science. 
          Douthat admits that it is fair to question such politicians and elected officials about their religion if they insist in waving it like a flag and demanding that we all follow that flag.  However, he draws an incorrect conclusion:
          This last point suggests the crucial error that the religious right’s liberal critics tend to make. They look at Christian conservatism and see a host of legitimately problematic tendencies: Manichaean rhetoric, grandiose ambitions, apocalyptic enthusiasms. But they don’t recognize these tendencies for what they often are: not signs of religious conservatism’s growing strength and looming triumph, but evidence of its persistent disappointments and defeats.
          When such groups have sufficient power to recall Congress for the Schiavo resolution, when they can cause Congress to pass the “defense of marriage act, when they can block access to abortion services and even birth control pills and information, they are not without power.  When there is a voter base willing to overlook a Vice-    residential candidate’s belief in witchcraft and a Presidential candidate’s belief that prayer can “cure homosexuality” our system of government is under attack by people who believe in fairy tales but not in gravity.
          If we give up on gravity, the Inquisition isn’t far behind.  From there it is but a short hop to the dark ages. 
I return to class tomorrow, enrolled in Astronomy/astrophysics.  How very timely and appropriate Keefe’s cartoon is.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

28 August 2011 high and dry

          The morning news has been mostly video from the New York City region.  Every reporter, correspondent, stringer, and contributor who can muster rain boots or waders is busily taping their self wading through storm surge or storm drain overflow so that they, too, can upload their on-the-spot report to all corners of a spherical world. 
          We’ve been treated to obligatory shots of flying debris, stall and flooded cars, and flooding at the coast.  We’ve seen multiple reporters leaning into storm winds to demonstrate their force.  We have seen countless radar loops that track and predict the storm’s path. 
          And in any storm such as this, there will be, and are, the run of the mill citizens who think that they can carry on a normal life in the middle of a hurricane.  There were people out jogging at 0830 in New York City, and I’m certain they were out in other storm-damaged cities as well. 
          As always, a significant number of people either fail to understand the risk they face or believe that they are immune to risk for any of many reasons. 
          When storm runoff and flooding are severe enough to lift storm drain covers and push them aside, they leave a great water-filled hole for joggers to fall into and then be swept downstream underground.  New York City has no above ground power lines.   Other cities do and power lines are down.  A live power line in a flooded road or field is not something to ignore.  The unwitting person who steps into that puddle is going to regret it. 
          There have been numerous arguments about new networks sending their crews out to tape these storms.  It is one thing to expose the crews to harm.  The crews can choose to limit their participation if they feel too much at risk.  The local people who seek to emulate the news crews, and those who are foolish enough to think they can safely go wandering about are, to some degree, being encouraged by the networks’ insistence upon showing such video tape.  Again, the local people can avoid such dangerous behavior if they think long enough. 
          The people most at risk, those who receive no lasting accolades, who have no ability to opt out of danger, are the public safety workers, cops, firefighters, national guard, health care providers, and linemen who have to risk their lives in storm conditions to save the idiots who should have known better.
          It is time to follow the lead of rescue teams in national parks and in other nations.  Survivors of such stupidity are billed for the services they require to rescue them.  For this reason, many climbers in Europe buy “rescue insurance” to cover their risk of needing assistance on the mountain. 
          Is it time for storm chaser, storm videographer insurance?
          It is nice to be here today.  The sky is mostly clear.  It is not overly hot, and we have enough altitude, with suitable topography, to cool things down tonight. 
          School starts in two days.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

27 August 2011 With style, panache, and trip insurance

Hurricane Irene: Making last dash for gruyere, emmenthaler

            The storm approaches. Black clouds race low in the sky in advance of the tropical maelstrom. I’ve stockpiled the cigars, the wine, the imported cheese and lean bacon from a local farm. I have fully powered up my laptop, my cell phone, my BlackBerry, my camera battery, and have cranked the AC to the point that ice is forming on the inside of the windows…”

Change of plans
            It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. Plans called for reporting on the dedication of the memorial on the Mall in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. That ceremony is now postponed. That’s because Nature has other plans for the weekend. And Nature must have her way. The way comes in the form of Hurricane Irene, now traveling up the East Coast. If you are not reading this blog by flashlight, consider yourself fortunate.
            “It’s been like this all week. On Tuesday, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck without warning, heaving and bucking the eastern United States for as long as it liked. And it left only when it felt like departing…”
sc110826 vacation electronics.gif
Cassi Creek:
          Achenbach, King, and Carlson all speak directly to various facets of disaster survival and preparedness. 
          Preparing for hurricanes is a never-ending task on the Gulf Coast and in the Atlantic states.  Hurricane protection, keeping property safe, is expensive, time-consuming, and often painful work.  Employers have a nasty habit of expecting employees to take care of the employer’s property before taking care of their own dwelling.  One of my previous employers took care of his property by telling another employee to drive him and his wife to the airport, and to then secure the employer’s home and business. 
          Even more of a problem is the practice of keeping businesses open during hurricanes and expecting employees to show up for business as usual despite storm warnings, evacuation orders, and the necessity of taking care of one’s own family.  Health care and public safety jobs are particularly problematic.
          Scheduled events such as concerts by people who rarely play near enough to hear, exams for licensure, vacation trips, and those things such as the King monument dedication are often dislocated by disasters of some sort.  Trip insurance is becoming almost a necessary part of any planned trip these days.  A two-week-long series of thunderstorms and hurricane-driven flooding can lay waste to a carefully planned fishing trip; or it can point out, as if it needed to be pointed out, how marvelous one’s wife and fishing partner is.  Sometimes the choice of traveling companion is the best available trip insurance!
          Carlson brings up the steadily increasing layers of technology that we find essential for nearly any function these days.  I would begin with the laptop computer (our first laptop appeared when we realized that we would need rapid access to our computerized files in the days after a hurricane, but that we could not count on having either electricity to power up and set up a new computer to replace a storm-damaged desk-top; or access to cash to purchase a new replacement.  Now they seem necessary.  Living on the edge of cell-phone access, we have not succumbed to smart phone web browsing or any other use of those small hand-held, once-phones that the oncoming generations find so important to being instantly in contact with 500 of their most important acquaintances.  
          So it goes:
External hard drive,
cooling pad,

Cell phone, charger,
Cell phone booster
Blue tooth headset
Blue tooth charger
Rechargeable camera battery
AA batteries
AAA batteries
N batteries
2032 batteries,
Kindle charger,
TI calculator,
TI calculator cables,
MP3 player
Charging cable
Ear buds,

Then we grab our “go-box” laden with insurance policies, copies of other necessary documents, medication lists, lock-box key, etc. 
Fly rods
Wading vest, waders, wading boots,
Hand gun & ammunition, secured from visual detection
Clothing for a week,
Night-driving glasses,
Sun glasses, polarized, photochromic,’
Sunglasses, polarized,
And of course, Loki, our, dog who would ride in the Pathfinder with me, having a great time watching the disaster crawl by.
          “Bear in mind that this is just a perfunctory list, missing many items that would come to mind 30 miles down the evacuation route. It is only my list.  Other than the “go-box,” Gloria will have her own.
          Looking at the list, the effort involved in gathering it all, packing it, loading it into the car, putting it all away upon returning home, you can begin to see why so many people just take a chance and ride out the storm at home. 
          Any disaster goes better with good food and beverages.  Jarlsberg on Chiabata, spicy tuna rolls, goat gouda, blinis, crème fresh, and caviar, washed down with a great champagne, smoky black tea,  or an IPA from a micro-brewery blunts the immediate disaster impact and improves one’s attitude during the post-disaster recovery.  I’ve already filled gasoline tanks.  I hope I get to the organic super market before they close down for the duration.  All disasters go better with luxury.

Friday, August 26, 2011

26 August 2011 Friday sans hurricane

          The majority of the American eastern seacoast and the states that define it are waiting out the first major hurricane since 2005.  Irene is coming with at deadly potential and certain damage. 
          2004-5 were horrible years for many homeowners and renters as a series of hurricanes pounded the Gulf Coast.  Charlie, Frances, Jeanne, Rita, Katrina, and Wilma caused extensive loss of life and billions in property damage.   New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina. 
          In 2004, we were brushed by Charlie and took damage from Frances and Jeanne.  Like many others in Florida, our insurance company folded due to poor management of a company that was initially established with fraud as its final product.  
          In 2005, we took no damage but played tag with one storm or another for 4000 miles of travel.  Our planned fishing days were mostly washed out by hurricane rains.  Our efforts to avoid I-95 as the storms kept evacuation traffic crawling inland took us through the mountains where we now live.  By the end of the 2005 hurricane season (actually ended in January 2006), we had our home protection action down to an art.  We could and did install our storm panels and drop & lock our hurricane shutters in 30 minutes.  That indicates practice. 
          We left Florida as the cost of homeowners insurance became unaffordable and property taxes spiraled upward driven by incessant speculation.  Since then, we’ve dealt with snow, heavy rains, localize flooding, bank erosion, falling trees, hot summers cold summers, cold winters, and the largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history, which missed our home by 0.1 mile on the ground, less in the air. 
          We have not, however, worried about hurricanes.  The forecast for the weekend calls for temperatures in the 80s, some thunderstorms – potentially including wind and hail. 
          We will not be putting up storm panels or boarding up and hoping that our property survives, as will so many to the east of us.  It would be great to see Irene track further out to sea and miss the American mainland entirely.  I shudder at the thought of trying to evacuate major N.E. cities.  As with any other disaster, cities reach a point when given their population density and existing capacity to handle massive relocation of citizens, they may as well be written off as not capable of evacuation.  The failure to protect and remove thousands of citizens during the Katrina storm and flood demonstrate all too well how poorly prepared this nation is to carry out timely and functional evacuations of cities threatened by natural disaster. 
          Chef-style salads should suffice for dinner tonight. 
Shabbat Shalom, good luck to all in the storm’s path.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

25 August 2011 Perrycare best non-care anywhere

“On Wednesday night, the governor's camp provided The Texas Tribune with an early sketch of what his health care plan could entail. Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the first thing the governor would do as president is work with Congress to repeal “Obamacare.” Then he would “start over,” first by working to stabilize the country’s economy for employers, then by trying to “free states from federal mandates and empower them to develop innovative solutions.” Finally, he would attempt to lower skyrocketing health care costs “through the proven, market-based strategies of transparency, choice and competition.” Perry wants states to be given flexibility and incentives to foster competition in the insurance market, to design solutions for patients with pre-existing conditions, to lower costs for small businesses and to implement medical malpractice reform, Miner said.

“Still, a look at Perry’s legislative history provides signposts to what some of his specifics could be. In line with the general details released Wednesday, health care policy experts expect a President Perry would seek to allow more local control over the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate what he sees as road blocks preventing medical industries from taking off. And they think he’d shift far more responsibility for running Medicaid — the joint state-federal health insurer that predominantly covers long-term care and poor children — to the states, as evidenced by his requests for more flexibility (and control of the purse strings) from Washington.

Read more:

Cassi creek:
          Just think of the money that can be saved when they convert our existing hospitals into work-houses and orphanages so that the poor and very poor who fall ill can sell their children into slavery to pay for their care, and can work from their sick beds to pay for pain-killers that will enable them to be more productive while dying.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

24 August 2011 The earth didn’t shake, but the Constitution is

Tell Members of Congress: Respect the First Amendment and Democracy, Stop Charging Your Constituents for Access!

Sign the petition:
“Dear Representative,
“The First Amendment states that Americans have the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances" and does NOT include the words "only if they are willing and able to pay for that privilege." The new practice of outsourcing constituent meetings to third parties that raise money on the events is an affront to democracy AND to the First Amendment.
I” urge you to respect the First Amendment and your constituents. Democracy should not be a "pay-per-view". Stop charging fees for constituent meetings.”

 Congressmen like Paul Ryan (R-WI) Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Chip Cravaack (R-MN), instead of hosting their own constituent town hall meetings, are having events hosted for them by friendly organizations with a fee for attendance. These members of Congress are so desperate to shelter themselves from criticism that they are denying their constituents' basic democratic access to their elected officials.
            The First Amendment states that Americans have the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances" and does NOT include the words "only if they are willing and able to pay for that privilege." What Ryan and his colleagues are doing is an affront to American democracy AND to the First Amendment.”
            Cassi Creek:
            We are well within the zone that would have allowed us to feel the earthquake that struck near Mineral VA, yesterday.   We were awake and working in our office.  Despite our availability and proximity, we missed the event.  For us, other forces were required to move the earth. As with Galileo, we can happily say,” "Eppur si muove"
            I rarely forward jokes, on-line warnings, or petitions.  The jokes have always been around at least three cycles. The on-line warnings are almost always untrue.  And, petitions are like chain letters, poorly designed, single in purpose, and best deleted unread.
            However, Congress, still on vacation claims that it needs that 5-week vacation in order to return to their home districts in order to talk to their constituents and find out what concerns them.  How is it, then, that over 50% of the House members has not and will not be holding town hall meetings this summer?  Having a paid admission event brings out only those party members who will pay toward re-election.  Those constituents who don’t belong to “the Party” and those who can’t afford tickets to enter the presence of the exalted are being disenfranchised by the corporate lobbyists that are now arranging meetings that support their corporation’s desires. 
            Our Congressman has not scheduled any public meetings that I can discover.  He has scheduled some conference calls that are highly screened.  I’ve actually sat through a couple of them – inconveniently scheduled at a time when many people are dining – but once I gave the screener my concerns I was put into a hold queue and politely ignored until the allotted time was consumed.  I was able to hear him lie to elderly women, telling them that “Palin’s death panels” would apply to them.   As a retired physician, he knew better.  Such is access for those who don’t belong to the party. 
            This process of pay for access is designed to get around the people’s right to address their concerns with their elected representatives.  Congress needs to respond to all its constituents, not just those with deep pockets.  If you are in agreement, let your Congressman/Congresswoman know. 
            Last item of the day.  Many in Congress have signed some idiotic “pledge” written by Grover Norquist.  Norquist can only reside in one Congressional district.  Those signers who don’t represent that particular district are betraying their constituents and their districts.  They should face recall. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

23 August 2011 Idle suppositions

Rick Perry should stop and think

By Richard Cohen, Published: August 22

            “Whatever global warming might or might not have done to polar bears, it has put Rick Perry’s presidential candidacy at risk. The Republican Texas governor clings to an ice floe of diminishing credibility, emerging in just about a week’s time as intellectually unqualified to be president. He engaged in a brief dialogue with a child about evolution and came out the loser. Perry said there are some gaps in the theory. If so, he is one…”

“The reasons Sarah Palin wouldn’t run for president

            “As we get closer and closer to decision time, here are a few reasons to believe that she won’t pull the trigger (with the caveat that nobody really knows what she’ll do…
            “The argument goes that, if Palin was serious about running, Fox would have taken her off the air already.

Palin not so smart if she actually runs for president

            “…Most importantly, Palin won’t run because the level of accountability and scrutiny will intensify. Her penchant for put-downs and sarcasm won’t be enough to fend off her challengers in the GOP field or in the press or make up for her lack of policy depth. But if she proves naysayers like me wrong and actually gets in this thing, it’ll prove without a doubt that she is not as smart as I think she is”.
Cassi Creek:
          There is some hope that Perry will wreck his campaign by demonstrating that he is deep in the teavangelists’ pockets. 
          There is every hope that Palin may have already wrecked her potential campaign by failing to obtain any further education on the problems and concerns that matter.  Instead, she has played to the teavangelist base and sucked the dollars from their pockets for personal gain.  Perhaps that base will finally wake up and realize that she is as bad for them as she is for thinking Americans. 
          This morning I was up early for a trip to the dentist – routine maintenance.  We’ll have linguini with clam sauce for dinner. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

22 August 2011 Calculate than never

          Astronomy = astrophysics!  Astrophysics = astronomy! 
          The phrase is true due to the commutative nature of the phrase.  Either way it is handled (solved), it comes down to number crunching to explain the physical world.
          During my early schooling, I took all the math and physical sciences that I could schedule.  Band was the only non-college-prep course I took, the only elective other than a semester course in “humanities” that filled a necessary slot.  Opposite a phys ed requirement I took drivers’ ed and typing.  Humanities filled the slot opposite phys ed that year. 
          Despite taking Chemistry, Physics, geometry/trigonometry, algebra I & II, I had better comprehension in those verbal and language skills than in mathematics.  I learned enough to perform well in those classes where numbers and unknowns were king but there was never an intuitive, light-bulb overhead moment.  I understand the concepts but have to work harder at them than at verbal skills in order to get the grades I wanted. 
          Had my plans for attending Annapolis panned out, I’d have become immersed in one of the engineering programs and would have been force-fed numbers and theories until they became autonomic.   Instead, inadequate vision sent me into history education, and then, fortunately into clinical lab.  I’d have been a very poor teacher.
          The only university level math course I was required to take was a college algebra course that met once weekly at 0730 on Saturday mornings.  That was really bad course selection for the clinical lab program due to the heavy load in chemistry, physiology, biochemistry, analytical chem, and other math-intensive classes that were required in order to qualify for the clinical rotations. 
          The instrumentation used in major labs was changing rapidly, allowing instruments to crunch the numbers for large patient loads rather than having slide-rule wielding staff cutting performance curves, graphs, and sets of calculations to turn out many fewer results after lengthy analysis.  Slide rules and paper graphs began to vanish from clinical labs in favor of “black box” calculations.
          Between history and clinical lab, I took an astronomy course as one of my few electives.  Less conversant than I should have been with the required math, an advisor who should have questioned my intention and preparation cleared my way to a long and confusing semester tied to a slide rule.  The TAs for the course wanted nothing to do with actually teaching students who wanted help.  They were prime examples of how I might have turned out had I continued into education as a job.  My math skills needed improvement and my slide rule skills were barely adequate to keep pace out of class. 
          Therefore, I’m taking astronomy this semester.  I’m not any better prepared than I was decades ago other than having several calculators to use.  The syllabus indicates a “scientific calculator” is required.  I actually have several.  The oldest was released about 1977.  The newest was released about 1989.  One of them actually has a screen for graph displays.  I don’t know how much help these are going to be, as I haven’t used them in at least 20 years.  I suspect that I may wind up needing to update my calculator supplies in order to obtain one with better graphing functions. 
          Classes start on 30 Aug for us.  I plan on taking copious notes, and making sure that my slide rule is well oiled.  If attitude matters, I intend to come out of this course with a better understanding of how mathematics explains the basic universe.  I’m willing to bet that no one in the class, student or instructor, other than me, has ever seen or worked a slide rule. 
          Who put that fossil into the universe?  Looks like I did.  We’ll see how much I’ve evolved!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

21 August 2011 Welcome home, thanks for helping us sell our beer

Please read the article below in its entirety.  

      On the home front, reminders of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq come in small doses

The wars came to the Nationals baseball game, as they always do, in the third inning.
            “The wounded troops from Walter Reed Army Medical Center had assembled in the stands behind home plate. Those in wheelchairs were in front. The ambulatory stood behind them. The Nationals pitcher threw a strike for the third out.
            “Give a warm welcome to brave servicemen and women and their families joining us tonight,” the stadium announcer intoned. Now the troops were on the big screen in center field, and the modest Tuesday night crowd was standing, hooting and cheering.
            “Sgt. Anthony Verra, who lost both legs and part of his right hip when he stepped on a buried bomb last year, waved his complimentary Nationals cap. His wife, Shauna, held their 1-year-old daughter on her hip and gently rubbed her husband’s shoulder. Behind them, a 19-year-old private first class, injured by a mine two months earlier, balanced on trembling legs. His right hand was curled and twitchy. He gazed up at the half-empty stadium and cried.
            “The applause lasted for 63 seconds…
Cassi Creek:
(Budweiser decided to use the returning soldier theme to sell more beer.)
            A melancholy ballad called “Goin’ Home,” by the blues-rock guitarist Dan Auerbach, plays in the background of the ad, which closes with the message, “Proudly Serving Those Who Serve.”
The commercial is notable for what it does not include. An early version opened with the sound of thumping helicopters and a three-second shot of soldiers carrying water jugs in front of tents, draped in camouflage netting. The scene was cut.
“The sand read too much like Afghanistan,” Byrne said.
Neither Byrne nor Budweiser wanted the ad to be too closely associated with a particular conflict. Byrne’s goal was to evoke an emotional response from a public that he knew was tired of war. His soldier looks vulnerable and exhausted. The ad is supposed to make people cry, and it does.
The spot performed so well in surveys that Budweiser chose to run it in heavy rotation throughout the NBA Finals. It played over and over, the war in a 60-second burst.

“If there are 17 beer choices, I might be more inclined to pick Budweiser because it put out a message that I respect and that made me feel something,” Byrne said.
            The war in 10 seconds
            “Mark Wise had seen the patriotic beer commercials. As a patient at Walter Reed, he had been on the wounded-warrior trips to the watch the Nationals play.
            ““I experience a fair amount of paranoia concerning ... my visible injuries,” Wise wrote in an e-mail to an Army friend. “And I deal with people who don’t understand the sacrifice made by all service members, particularly those in direct combat roles.”
            “To explain his scars, Wise developed a short account of his military service: “I was in Afghanistan, and there was a firefight,” he would say. “The guy next to me stepped on a mine. It blew me up, and I was in the hospital for a while.”
            “There was his entire war, reduced to a 10-second exchange.
            They leapt across an irrigation ditch and crouched behind a wall as Wise directed the fight. Michel, who had a grenade launcher, asked Wise to switch spots with him so he could get off a better shot.
            “Wise leaned forward, resting his hand on the mud wall. As Michel stepped over him, the radioman’s foot came to rest on a buried mine containing about 40 pounds of explosives…”
Cassi Creek:   The idea that a major corporation would consider our armed forces members as fodder for a sales campaign is entirely alien to me.  I can’t find language that sufficiently expresses the dept h of my revulsion and contempt for the people who thought this one up. 
            As the current wars drag on with our all-volunteer forces attempting to execute one or more aspects of our nation’s foreign policy, the gap between our armed forces and our civilian populace grows wider. 
            It is hard to relate many of the experiences that come with military service to those who have not worn the uniform.  Some facets are all but impossible to convey.  When there is no commonality of experience, there is little understanding of what previous generations shared. 
            I’ve taken care of wounded in the field.  I’ve been under fire and have been lucky enough to come home intact.  I’ve taken care of wounded in a stateside hospital, seen them undergo long-term repairs and rehab that restore as much normalcy as possible.  I’ve seen them make the outside bus trips and heard them talk about people staring past them.  That was during VietNam and there was a lot of divisive behavior then that was intentionally hurtful. 
            I recall the isolation that came when I returned to university and found myself separated from the student body by my service and my inability to relate well to anyone who wasn’t a veteran also. 
            The current crops of veterans have been treated better by the nation that sent them off to war.  They are not expected to hide their service in order to fit in.  They are somewhat more welcome in schools.  But they are often unable to find jobs when they return home.   The social impact of their service is immense if they are not wounded.  If they took massive damage, they’ll be singled out forever. 
            The populace is doing a bit better at welcoming them home if one overlooks no jobs and no homes for too many.  But the use of their war experiences to sell beer is inexcusable.  They deserve so much better than ritualized applause lasting a minute. 
            Condensing one soldier’s life-changing injuries into a ten second burst of information is a self-protection tool.  He will never tell that tale without reliving every second of it.  It will haunt him forever.  The impact is impossible to relate to a non-soldier whether in 10 seconds or 60 hours. 
            It would be wonderful if, upon return from combat tours, our troops were met, not with tawdry ad campaigns using their service to sell bad beer; but with new soldiers taking their turn in the wars our government finds necessary to wage.  

Thanks for reading the article and my comments.
Your conclusions may differ from mine.