Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another er . . . Improved Photo

They just can't help themselves. There is no other explanation.

Check out these two pictures of Katie Couric. The first is the true picture of her while the other was a digitally slightly improved for publication of a magazine called WATCH!

She and CBS both claim that they were unaware of the alteration, which is quite possible. But with CBS's track record of late, and the media in general. I am not so sure. My biggest question, "What other reason than just plain old vanity? Are we coming to a point where photos can no longer be considered proof? I am afraid so."

H/T Jeff Gannon

Help the Poor(?), Raise Minimum Wage(?)

Michigan will soon raise its minimum wage above the national minimum wage. It will be $6.95 an hour in this state.

This is not a good idea on several levels:

During the worst presidential nightmare of my adulthood, Jimmy Carter attempted to eliminate poverty by raising minimum wage, thus artificially increasing incomes. This was a big part of the reason we had double digit inflation under that half-wit. A person's labor is only worth so much in real value and if the payments for this labor are artificially increased beyond its true worth, it simply reduces the value of the dollar.

Secondly, Michigan needs jobs period. Part of Michigan's problem (and why its unemployment rate is half-again the national rate) is that the cost of labor is just too high, especially for unskilled labor. We need to attract investors, not scare them away. Raising the cost of labor in this state is not going to encourage badly needed investments.

Finally there is this young man, Adam Folson , who is going to lose his job because his school is facing budget cuts and the increase in minimum wage is pricing him out of the picture.

His feeling is that if he is willing to work for less than minimum wage, it is nobody's business but his own. I understand the concerns this would raise, but also feel he has a valid point. It is curious to me that he resents the government in this case, but not the employer whom he feels had no choice but to let him go. (If I were his employer, and it were possible to do so, I would keep him on reduced hours, but I don't know all the circumstances and I agree that there is also a principle here.)

I also was unaware of the Adkins vs Children's Hospital decision. I am aware of it now. It has been overturned, so at the moment at least, it is little more than a historical curiousity.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Trivia -- Goofy Grape

In the mid 60s through the late 70s, Pillsbury challenged Kool Aid with their own fruit flavored drink mixes with a crazy a character associated with each flavor. They were called Funny Face and Goofy Grape was the flagship flavor they offered.

Do you remember these?
How many flavors and characters of Funny Face Drink Mix can you name from memory?

Do you remember, or is it my imagination, King Stir (Drink mix on a swizzle stick that you stirred into water) or Shake-A-Pudding? Now I am really dating myself. How about Space Food Sticks?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Has GM Finally Turned the Corner?

The Detroit News today has an article like it hasn't had in a while. It has an upbeat article on General Motors.

It seems that GM is absorbing the buyouts without any problems and the new hires are fitting right in. Good. The new hires are averaging $18/hr vs $27/hr. That is still a pretty darned good wage, but unfortunately it is only a short term job. Not so good.

The Orion TWP plant, where the story is centered is doing nicely and production on the G6 Sedan is actually increasing. Good.

They have copied training and production techniques from the Japanese. Good.

Do note that Mike Dunne, chairman of UAW Local 5960, is also optomistic that GM has turned the corner and there will be brighter days in the future. Usually I roll my eyes when the UAW talks, as you can only believe about a tenth of what they say, but I hope he is right. My employer does quite a bit of work for GM and I would like to see them stay around for a while. It's my bread and butter too.

Of course, a lot depends on how well the 07 models do.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Whose on The Picket Line?

So the unions are speaking out against Walmart.

Fine. That's their right. I don't listen to them anyway.

But who is walking their picket lines?

In at least one instance, the answer will not make you happy.

Real Union people should be furious about this sham of a picket line.

H/T A commenter at Captain's Quarter.

Oil Under Suburban Detroit

A lot of people do not realize it, but there is a considerable amount of oil and natural gas in Southeastern Michigan but there is a slight problem with retrieving it. It is underneath homes, schools, factories, parks, highways, shopping malls etc. It is underneath the suburbs of Detroit.

At one time the area was an underwater coral reef that absorbed alot of organics that became oil and natural gas.

There isn't enough there to end our long term dependence on foreign oil, but there is a considerable amount there. Bay West wants to extract it. They would take it by angle-drilling, reimbursing the property owners, in all likelihood without changing their property a bit.

There are of course concerns, some of them are legit and need to be dealt with before we do too much more suburban drilling but the problems are not insurmountable, and with today's oil prices, the need for that oil is considerable. Others want that oil and gas to stay there because they want the environment protected at all costs, and there is no foolproof way to remove it.

I say find the safest way possible and retrieve it. You know that nobody wants the smell of a well or a refinery, but in the end we need them. We can do alot to eliminate the threats and we need to make sure these are done but the hydrocarbons are needed.

As far as those who don't want any oil or gas recovered, period, I am sure they would gladly pay a purely voluntary couple of extra dollars a gallon for gas just to prove a point.

Maybe not.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Are You a Liberal, a Conservative, or a Redneck?

Hat Tip to my non-blogging co-worker, Tom, who sent this to me.

Are you a Liberal, Conservative or Redneck?

Here is a little test that will help you decide. The answer can be found by posing the following question:

You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you.

You are carrying a 40 caliber Glock and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Liberal Answer:

Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!

Does the man look poor! Or oppressed?

Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?

Could we run away?

What does my wife think?

What about the kids?

Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?

What does the law say about this situation?

Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?

Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?

Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?

Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me? If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?

Should I call 9-1-1?

Why is this street so deserted?

We need to raise taxes, have a paint and weed day and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior.

This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends for few days and try to come to a consensus.

Conservative's Answer:


Redneck's Answer:

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click...(sounds of reloading). BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click

Daughter: "Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or Hollow Points?

Son: Git-r-Dun Pop! Can I shoot the next one!

Wife: You ain't taking that to the Taxidermist!

Do You Have an On-Line Photo Album

I make a half-hearted effort to keep Absolute Zero (an anti-pedophile blog where I am a contributor) and this one a little bit seperate but this could be a problem for a lot of people.

A lot of families share pictures by on-line photo albums and that in and of itself may be a good idea, but you may be having some uninvited guests examining your pictures for other reasons.

A posting at Absolute Zero links to a Pedophile chat room called Visions of Alice where there is thread on how to find pictures of children, which they find sexually exciting, by perusing other people's personal on-line photo albums and collecting pictures of their children.

At free sites there is little you can do to stop this beyond being aware of the album and watching what you post. If this concerns you you might want to go with a pay site that includes passwords to restrict access.

Your eight year old playing at the pool is an innocent picture to most normal people, but it is a turn on to these freaks.

On an aside, as I saw the pedophile discussion thread, its header nearly broke my heart: A pretty little girl being treated as a sex object.

I refuse to directly link to Visions of Alice for obvious reasons. If you wish, you may examine it through the Absolute Zero link.

Great Lakes Loons?

Midland Michigan's new minor league team is apparently going to be called the "Great Lakes Loons".

The only paper carrying the story today is the Saginaw News which is a pay to subscribe website. Nope.

As far as the name goes, I rolled my eyes when they first called the Lansing franchise the "Lugnuts" and most of the people were groaning and shaking their heads, but by the time the "Nuts" went onto the field everyone loved them and their name. You don't diss the Nuts.

What I don't get is the number of teams that don't call themselves after the city. If you are the only team in the state, or the area described fine, but I would have prefered the name be "Midland Loons" or maybe "Tri-Cities Loons".

Update: Here is a link from Midland's Newspaper. Minor League Baseball is now at Midland Michigan

Friday, August 25, 2006

How Did We Survive

According to the experts, very few of us should be alive today, and yet we are.

My brother has an interesting post on what we have survived, and shouldn't have, to grow up in a less enlightened time. It is a good and thoughtful post.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

This Does Not Compute!!

I was strolling not too far from my home last week when an ambulance and fire truck went by, sirens blaring and lights flashing. They turned onto a side street less than a block from me, so I went to see what was going on.

A woman had fainted in a small business parking lot and the ambulance had to come to help her, and if necessary, take her to emergency room (which it did.)

The ambulance made sense, but why the fire truck?

It makes sense to send an ambulance to all fire calls because you never know if someone is going to be hurt by the fire, but why send a fire truck on all ambulance runs?

I asked a bit, and it was because every truck crew has a fully qualified paramedic and they want them at the scene.

I wonder though, at a time of budget cuts and local deficits, wouldn't it make more sense to put the paramedic on the ambulance?

Or is there something I don't know?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Get An "Honorable Mention"

It was not a great contest with a great prize.

The good folks over at Gates of Vienna had a contest to come up with a Slogan for the anti-Jihadists.

I offered "War or Slavery - Your Choice!" and let it slip my mind as I had completely forgotten about it.

There were 156 entries and five of them placed as well as five honorable mentions, including mine.

Not exactly earth-shattering, and really of very little importance, but it brought a grin to my face. I don't expect to see on a bumper-sticker any time soon.

Am I Offended?

I make no secret that I consider my religion, New Testament Christianity, to be the truth and the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God. (Some of it is obviously symbolic and apocalyptic rather than literal and other sections are limited in their application, but all of its moral commands and statements of doctrine are true.) I also make no secret of the fact that I consider other religions to be simply wrong at best, though I do hold Judaism near and dear to my heart as a true but incomplete revelation of God.

Alot of people disagree with my beliefs and that is their right, both legally and morally. God will deal with those who believed false religions and the New Testament instructs me to let God, Who knows the heart, handle it.

Am I offended when a Jew, Muslim or follower of another religion proclaims that Jesus is not the Son of God. Not really. That is what their religion believes and they are simply being true to it. Now I am offended when a supposed Christian, wearing a cross and clerical collar and carrying a Bible, walks into a Christian pulpit or Christian Seminary and declares that Jesus is not the Son of God. I am not offended when an Atheist declares the Bible to be a lie because that is what Atheists believe and that is what I expect from them, but I am offended when "Christian" ministers and scholars say that it is a lie. What is offensive is that the person is trying to claim a title (Christian) that does not match what they believe and they are attacking the Church from the inside.

Was I offended when Mapplethorpe photographed an image of Christ in a container of his urine. Not really, I thought he was an idiot. The crucifix is simply a work of art and not confused with Christ Himself. The photograph said more about the artist than it said about my Lord.

I was offended that tax dollars paid for it.

I was not offended by the elephant dung Mary either, but again I was offended that tax dollars paid for it.

I am not offended by people who disagree with my religion and honestly say so, but I am offended by pretenders who take our symbols and name and then treat them as something false and unholy reflecting their unbelief, while pretending to believe. I am not offended by people who disagree with my politics, as I don't take it personally, but I am offended by those who resort to name-calling and bully-boy tactics to silence their opposition. I much prefer discussion based on facts and reasonable opinion to those who simply scream "Fascist" or "Pinko" without any consideration as to what those words actually mean.

I am not offended by those who artistically abuse the symbols of our faith. I am however offended when tax dollars will pay for these images and "art objects" but a public display of the 10 Commandments is not allowed.

Keep It A Little Anonymous.

The Federal Trade Comission gave some guidelines for avoiding identity theft, and they seemed most interested in bloggers between the ages of 18 and 24. I am just a wee-bit out of that age range, but I am a blogger so I decided to take a look at this. The key, they say, is to be anonymous.

1) Watch What You Blog
Actually if you read all my posts and studied everything I write, you could make some pretty solid guesses about me, determine about where I live etc. but I have tried to keep my full name, exact location and employer all reasonably secret. I did put up my picture, but a determined person would have to work a little to locate me. It is recommended that personal information be limited to a first name. (Please do not take it as a personal challenge to ID me.)

2)Don't Get Caught in Phishing Net
Be very careful about anything that asks for personal information, and that is doubly so for your SSN.

3.)Keep Software Security Up to Date
My anti-virus and anti-spyware software automatically updates daily. They recommend at least once a week. Daily makes more sense to me and isn't that difficult, plus most AV systems can be set to automatically update daily.

4)Avoid Sharing Your Computer.
Actually this is not hard for me as I live alone and what few people would ever use my computer are people I trust. If you do then you should sign out on any accounts you have before you allow them to use it. And be creative with your passwords, which I am anyway. My Yahoo password would be inexplicable to most of you and most anyone who knows me. My PINs all have a logic but it is a logic known to me and me alone.

5) Use Caution When Using On-Line Querys.
Now I must admit that I did not consider this one but it makes sense. When you answer a MEME, as I have done couple of times when tagged, watch your answers and do not put down any that are also personal PASSWORDS as would-be ID thieves do study this information to find passwords.

6)Watch For Wi-Fi.
Many of these, especially ones open to the public have only the absolute minimum of security.

In other words, keep it a little anonymous.

Ford and the UAW

That there is going to be a buyout program with Ford, similar to what was done at GM, is now appearing in the newspapers. Also appearing is the concern in UAW locals that this will seriously hurt them and the union. The UAW is already at 40% of its peak membership (600,000 workers today and opposed to 1,500,000 at its peak). The union fears the loss of clout along with loss of money.

Union headquarters, at this point, are not talking about it but locals are and seem to fear that not only will plants be shut down and consolidated, but so will locals. They are insisting that the bought out workers be replaced, even if it means (suprise, suprise) at lower wage scale. It is curious that they seem to be more concerned with strength of the UAW than they are with the well-being of their employees. I suspect that some of the local presidents are thinking that if their local closes, they too will need new jobs and not too many union locals, in any union, are hiring these days. It is probably easier to find an auto industry job.

One thing puzzles me though. Mario Guerreso, president of UAW Local 245 said that losing 50 workers would cost his local $12,000 a month. If union dues are the typical 2 hours pay a month, then 50 workers would result in a 100 average hours in dues and this comes out to employees being paid $120 per hour. That seems to be unlikely, even for the big 3, so wonder where else that money would be coming from.

I have a union card and am a member, but I do not consider the UAW to seriously relevant to my life at this point. The union is quite unpopular in my plant and is tolerated as a necessary evil at best. Most feel that the union has, by and large, lost its way and its connection to the rank and file. I concur with this.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bye Bye Tom Cruise (For Now)

Call me self-righteous if you want and there ARE more important stories in the world, but I think a few more actors need to suffer the fate that Tom Cruise just suffered. Paramount has just cut ties with him. I don't know the whole story, but it seems that Paramount could no longer tolerate his behavior.

"As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal," Redstone was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal. "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

When a star of his drawing power gets the ax, you know he upset somebody. Supposedly it was his advocating of Scientology and his denouncing Brooke Shields for using anti-depresant drugs.

Now to be fair, Cruise and his associate, Paula Wagoner claim that they are simply striking out on their own, and to be honest, Paramount making such claims as they have out of bitterness over him leaving is not beyond the realm of possibility.

The tabloids have been predictably saying some pretty bad things about him and the truth is unknown. To be honest, I don't think much of Scientology and I loved how Steve Martin parodied it as "Mindhead" in his movie Bowfinger. But he is free to follow any religion he chooses.

My favorite of all his movies was Legend (One of my lifelong top 10), but War of Worlds was alright and I liked The Last Samurai and Minority Report but he never was one of my favorites.

A century or more ago, most entertainers were considered to be low-lifes and were not idolized and if you go back even farther, in ancient times most entertainers were slaves. It just amazes me that entertainment has come full circle from the occupation of neer-do-wells and slaves to a job of enviable glamor. Such is existence.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chapter 02: Mein Kampf Some thoughts.

PLEASE NOTE: I wrote these observations while I read, so there is no logical order except as it follows his writings.

As I continue to read the second chapter of Mein Kampf I am struck by the incredible arrogance and self-centeredness of this man. Everything seems to be for him and about him.
At this point in his writing, Hitler's written beliefs and observations are indistinguishable from those of Marx.

During my struggle for existence in Vienna, it had become clear to me that Social activity must never and on no account be directed toward philanthropic flim-flam, but rather toward the elimination of the basic deficiencies in the organization of our economic and cultural life that must-or at all events can-lead to the degeneration of the individual .

Yet the difference is as glaring as the similarities. When Marx wrote he spoke of world-wide working class that did not respect nations or borders while Hitler was obssesed with the idea of nations in general and Germany in particular. He was particularly upset when circumstances forced an inherently superior German man into destitution. He rejected Marxism, not for economic reasons but for national and "moral" reasons.

Yet something does frighten me; much of what he writes portrays a great wisdom and insight. How could such wisdom have gone so badly astray and turned this man into the monster he had already become when he wrote this book?

He said this about the Marxists:

For what a difference between the glittering phrases about freedom, beauty, and dignity in the theoretical literature, the delusive welter of words seemingly expressing the most profound and laborious wisdom, the loathsome humanitarian morality- all this written with the incredible gall that comes with prophetic certainty-and the brutal daily press, shunning no villainy, employing every means of slander, lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams, all in the name of this gospel of a new humanity. The one is addressed to the simpletons of the middle, not to mention the upper, educated, 'classes,' the other to the masses.

I wonder if he was writing them or about himself and his book. He created a nearly-exact image of the monster he hated. As he studied the Social Democrats, he learned and later copied their methods of winning minds and influence. Sadly these same techniques are being practiced today by extremists of every polical stripe.

As I read I begin to understand why so many people listened to him. No lie is as effective as the lie that is wrapped in some truth. Hitler said much that was true, but so did Karl Marx, Mao Tse Tong and others. If something is a lie through and through then no one who has any understanding at all will listen to it.

Then I come to this and wonder what modern day union people would say about this.

By my twentieth year I had learned to distinguish between a union as a means of defending the general social rights of the wage-earner, and obtaining better living conditions for him as an individual, and the trade union as an instrument of the party in the political class struggle.

The fact that Social Democracy understood the enormous importance of the trade-union movement assured it of this instrument and hence of success; the fact that the bourgeoisie were not aware of this cost them their political position. They thought they could stop a logical development by means of an impertinent 'rejection,' but in reality they only forced it into illogical channels. For to call the trade-union movement in itself unpatriotic is nonsense and untrue to boot. Rather the contrary is true. If trade-union activity strives and succeeds in bettering the lot of a class which is one of the basic supports of the nation, its work is not only not anti-patriotic or seditious, but 'national' in the truest sense of the word. For in this way it helps to create the social premises without which a general national education is unthinkable. It wins the highest merit by eliminating social cankers, attacking intellectual as well as physical infections, and thus helping to contribute to the general health of the body politic.

Consequently, the question of their necessity is really superfluous.

As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in z social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people's health.

So Hitler embraced the trade-unions while rejecting "Social Democracy"? (This may be unfair as he did embrace many things that were good or neutral; he had to to gain a power base.)
As I read his observations on the trade unions, I begin to be troubled because many of his observations match mine; that they have abandoned the purpose of their existence for a more political cause. I begin to wonder: Had I lived 70 years ago in Germany would I have been seduced by this man as so many others were? I have the advantage of the perspective of history and can see the poison fruit of his actions. I take some comfort that this is the truth that he used to wrap his lies in.

Toward the end of the 2nd chapter he makes his first hints of the evil that is at the heart of all of this: Only a knowledge of the Jews provides the key with which to comprehend the inner, and consequently real, aims of Social Democracy. It is at this point that the man's evil begins to become manifest as I read on. By the end of the second chapter most of Germany's problems could be traced to the Jews. And Hitler's flaws become obvious. The desire wealth and power over others is not merely a Jewish thing but a human thing, and many humans will do anything to expand their power and wealth, including exploiting their fellow man by direct or indircet means

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reading Mein Kampf

While I was aware of Hitler's writings, it was, for me at least, difficult to find them. I had read parts of Mein Kampf when I was in college, but I had never found the complete work. I found the complete text at a site called Hitler.Org.

I am not enthused about a site on Hitler that is "unbiased" but such a site is probably best for finding the historical documents associated with this madman.

Having only read the first chapter so far, I have found one passage that got me thinking about another situation entirely:

Only a handful of Germans in the Reich had the slightest conception of the eternal and merciless struggle for the German language, German schools, and a German way of life. Only today, when the same deplorable misery is forced on many millions of Germans from the Reich, who under foreign rule dream of their common fatherland and strive, amid their longing, at least to preserve their holy right to their mother tongue, do wider circles understand what it means to be forced to fight for one's nationality. Today perhaps some can appreciate the greatness of the Germans in the Reich's old Ostmark, who, with no one but themselves to depend on, for centuries protected the Reich against incursions from the East, and finally carried on an exhausting guerrilla warfare to maintain the German language frontier, at a time when the Reich was highly interested in colonies, but not in its own flesh and blood at its very doorstep.

As everywhere and always, in every struggle, there were, in this fight for the language in old Austria, three strata:

The fighters, the lukewarm and the traitors.

This sifting process began at school. For the remarkable fact about the language struggle is that its waves strike hardest perhaps in the school, since it is the seed-bed of the coming generation. It is a struggle for the soul of the child, and to the child its first appeal is addressed:

'German boy, do not forget you are a German,' and, 'Little girl, remember that you are to become a German mother.'

What occured to me is what some imigrants from Mexico are saying amongst themselves and their talk of La Raza. It sends a small shiver down my spine.

I read of his Realschule history teacher, Dr. Leopold Potsch, who inspired him so much, and I wonder if this guy had any clue of what he was creating as he taught German history to young Adolph Hitler. Especially when Hitler included these words:

This teacher made history my favorite subject.

And indeed, though he had no such intention, it was then that I became a little revolutionary.

What also troubles me is that much of what he says is a twisting and misapplication of things that are, in and of themselves, good things: love of your people, land, culture and language. He used them as an excuse to hate what was outside of it. I also note that in the 1st chapter at least, the cosmic evil is not the Jews but the Slavs, whom he believed to be corrupting the Germans who were forced to live in Austria.

I may comment on further chapters as I read them, if I find it worthwhile.

Update 10:09 As I ate supper I thought about what I had read and several things occured to me.

1) Hitler defined nationality solely on blood or ethnicity. America is a nation that (supposedly) has a common ideal rather than a common ethnicity. I wonder what Hitler thought of that. I suppose I'll find out later. I have read that some "leaders" say America is not truly a legitimate nation because there is no American ethnicity.

2) Hitler's insistence that all Germans, regardless of where they were, were to form one Reich with one ruler reminds me of the idea of one Caliphate under one law (Sharia). Similarities begin to abound even with the first chapter.

Thinking on Planets -- Size Matters!

As I read more and more on the definition of a planet, I see more arguing and debate. Mostly over the status of Charon, Ganymede, our moon etc.

I just have to give my opinion on how I, as non-professional would do it. I know I am not qualified to do this but it's my blog where I say what I think.

I like the idea of having enough mass to become nearly a sphere, in fact I would make that the prime criteria along with mass being below the point of deuterium fusion (being large enough for that would make the object a brown dwarf.)

What I would change is I would adjectives to clarify things.

Primary Planet: Meets mass criteria and orbits a star, brown dwarf, or stellar remnant.

Secondary Planet: Meets mass criteria and orbits another planet.

Rogue Planet: Meets mass criteria but does not orbit a star.

Secondly I would have a series of at least five adjectives giving a succession of sizes. The actual numbers are arbitrary and scientists would know better than I on where to draw the lines.

Minor Planet: Less than 1000KM in diameter
Small Planet: 1000-<4000KM in diameter.
Midrange Planet:4000-<20000KM in diameter
Large Planet:20000-<50000KM in diameter
Giant Planet:>50000KM in diameter.

Thus Earth would be a Midrange Primary Planet while the moon would be a Small Secondary Planet. Ceres would be a Minor Primary Planet.

Of course as our knowledge grows, other terms would be needed to describe the planets temperature, composition and origin.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Our Last Line of Defense?

These are people I really can't give my unconditional support to, because some of them are nuts. But I know people who are part of this organization and are salt of earth citizens.

The Michigan Militia, perhaps unfairly, was tarred as a racist, near-criminal outfit by the conduct of Timothy McVeigh, who was rejected by the militia (though somehow the press slipped by the word "rejected".).

I cannot give unconditional support to them because, as an umbrella group, they include some outfits that are just plain crazy, including one (which may not truly be affiliated with them) who claims that Michigan is Sovereign and the US Constitution has no authority here. I know about them because my Father, who is a Township Supervisor -- sort of a rural mayor -- was harrassed by them for "illegally" exorcising authority in Michigan. Like I said, some of these groups are just plain crazy.

But crazy or not, I live in the heart of Militia country and I know several people who belong to it, and they are deadly serious about it. They view themselves as the last line of defense, and if our government fails to protect the citizens of this state, they will.

I have serious questions about them, but as I see weak-willed politicians unwilling to stand up for anything, I'm also kind of glad they're there.

Cat and Toilet

Brainster has a link to a very funny video of a cat playing with a toilet. Go to the post entitled Friday Cat-Blogging. That is one smart cat.

Anyone who thinks cats are just dumb animals hasn't dealt with too many of them. We had a cat named Mittens who knew what light switches were for and it was not unusual for us to be gone until after dark and find the house brightly lit as she had turned on every switch she could reach.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thanks for Reminding Me

I really didn't need to know this, but I guess it's always coming.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Twelve Planets

When I was young and foolish (14 or so) I dabbled a little in Astrology. The book I learned Astrology from (whose title I have forgotten) had open spaces for 3 more planets: Vulcan (the hypothetical planet between Mercury and the Sun, not the Star Trek one.), Planet X and Planet Y (which were hypothetically beyond Pluto.) I learned enough to reject Astrology and pretty much lost interest in hypothetical planets (While extra-solar planets were quite another matter.)

Now it does appear that there are 12 planets because the term planet now has a more precise definition.

"A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet."

There is still no Vulcan inside of Mercury's orbit, or it is quite unlikely but now the asteroid Ceres could be re-promoted to full planet status, as would Charon (Pluto's moon because Pluto and Charon are so close to the same size that they orbit a common point between them rather than one orbit the other so they are technically twin planets -- by this definition.) The twelve planet is Xena, previously known as 2003 UB313.

The article correctly points out that our moon is larger than 3 of these planets (and Jupiter's moon Ganymede is larger than Mercury) and they are round so should they be considered planets too in spite of being satelites?

I have a feeling this isn't going to stand long and they will be redefining again.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do We Need This Amendment.

A couple of months ago I posted a pair of changes that I felt the Constitution needed (specifically one making English our official language and one making it more difficult for the government to cede sovereignty to an international organization.)

I may be out of line as a mere citizen doing this, but here is another. (I would really rather sum it up in one or two simple sentences, but without hedging groups such as the ACLU would twist in into a legal nightmare, thus all the hedging.)

All citizens of the United States shall have the legal right and obligation to individually and collectively defend themselves, their property, their families, their communities and their nation against unlawful trespass, seizure, damage or destruction, in a manner appropriate to the nature, severity and immediacy of the threat.

If the threat is not immediate, then the citizenry shall allow lawful authorities to manage the situation, and armed mobs will not be allowed to replace the lawful authorities in enforcing the law; however, lawful authorities may organize an armed populace to deal with extreme situations. The actual right of a citizen to personally defend themselves is limited to crimes actually being commited or when there is clear and imminent danger of a crime about to be commited. Violent or destructive acts of revenge by individuals or groups are not protected by this constitution.

Citizens have the right to individually or collectively restrain a known or suspected criminal until lawful authorities are able to take the matter into hand. The lawful authorities must be alerted as quickly as possible and the citizens who restrain the assumed criminal must be willing to assume legal responsibility if they are shown to be wrong or mistaken.

This shall not be interpreted as allowing citizens to harm or threaten government officials performing legitimate duties; citizens have a duty to co-operate with and accept lawful means of trespass and seizure. In the event of a miscarriage of a lawful means they shall have full recourse to the courts and to public knowledge and pressure. Any seizure or destruction of private property in the process of or purpose of law enforcement, of value greater than three days' wages for an unskilled worker, by government agencies shall be subject to appeal by jury. Citizens have the right to compensation for unlawful seizure, damage or destruction of property by government agencies.

This posting is an expansion on a comment I made to a posting at Freedom, GUNZ, glory and EBYJO

A Dumb Trivia Question For Tuesday

We all know that in Archie Comics, Archie's best pal is a slightly eccentric character known as Jughead Jones. The publishers of these comics have officially given him a real name, though only his mother ever uses it in the comic strips. What is Jughead's real name? It is every bit as eccentric as he is.

A Danish Blog Worth Seeing.

Always looking for international blogs that offer substance rather than blind anti-Americanism, I am pleased to say that I have found a great blog from Denmark that is written in English:

On The Wing

Pay him a visit and take a look around. He is worth the time.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sigh, Another tag

Time to get to TomC's tag.
The MEME of three.

1... Things that scare me.
a. A devestating attack on my country.
B. Leftists winning the next election
C. George Soros

2...People who make me laugh
.a. Da Yoopers
B. Peter Sellers
C. Jeff Foxworthy

3...Things I hate the most.
a. Arrogance
B. liars.
C. freeloaders.

4...Things I don't understand.
a. How anyone can be an Atheist
B. How anyone can stand to harm another for their own pesonal gain
C. How anyone can intentionally hurt a child

5...Things I'm doing right now.
a. answering TomC's tag
B. eating a banquet frozen dinner
C. Listening to Patti Page, the Millenium Collection

6...Things I want to do before I die.
a. Go into space, preferably to the moon
B. translate the entire Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew
C. Write a book fit to publish

7... Things I can do.
a. Read Greek and Hebrew.
B. I am very fast, though not quite lightning, calculator.
C. Cook very well

8... Ways to describe my personality.
a. Quiet
B. Contemplative

9...Things I can't do.
a.Hit the broadside of a barn from the inside with a bow and arrow
B. fix a car (mental block somewhere)
C. sing

10...Things I think you should listen to.
a. The Bible
B. Mellow up lifting music
C. Your conscience.

11...Things you should never listen to
.a. Rap or Punk
B. The Network News.
C. The UAW

12...Things I'd like to learn.
a. Arabic.
B. Machine Language for Computers
C. Japanese

13...Favorite foods.
a.slow roasted and stuffed, or bbq chicken
B. properly prepared tacos
C. Rare and juicy steak

14...Beverages I drink regularly.
a. caffeine free Diet Coke.
B. Diet Dr. Pepper.
C. Orange Juice

15...Shows I watched as a kid.
a. Lost in Space.
B.The Avengers.
C. Combat

16...People I'm tagging
The first three people to read this are officially tagged. If in doubt post. heh heh heh.

A Saint Indeed

I hate to admit it but I was only vaguely familiar with the story of the Catholic Priest and Saint, Father Maximilian Kolbe, who was at Auschwitz and sacrificed his life to save a Jewish man.

How Christlike can you get? I am in awe of this man (and I am a very staunch Protestant!)

Captain's Quarters has the entire story. It is inspiring and really worth reading.

I just wish my computer wouldn't refuse to let me comment there (for some reason it will not allow me to log in, even though I have an account.)

No Winners.

It looks like both sides are claiming a degree of victory in the recent Israeli-Hezzie war. My response to both is unprintable.

The Hezzies can only declare victory because their victory-threshold is very, very, very low -- they still exist in southern Lebanon. All they had to do to win, by their definition of the word, was survive. However they are in very bad shape and have been hurt much worse than they care to admit. They have also suffered, again they refuse to acknowledge it, a serious PR defeat as many who were once sympathetic to them now recognize that they are nothing but blood-thirsty killers.

Israel is, over the long run, still in pretty good shape. They did much more damage to the Hezzies than the Hezzies did to them. They too are claiming victory but they failed to finish off the enemy when they could have and should have.

All that is happened is a breather for both sides to do again. There was no decisive victory for either side. This is going to continue.

Very possibly with a new Israeli leader.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Big Mack

The Mackinaw (or Mackinac to some) Bridge is one of Michigans greatest points of interest and an important part of our economy in many ways. It is a suspension bridge whose entire length is just about 5 miles.

Many stories are told about it. Some of them are true such as the young woman who was blown to her death when a freak wind picked up her Yugo and sent it into the water below. (The link, by the way has an error, it is not the "Straights of Michigan" but the "Straights of Mackinaw.") An old college friend whom I haven't seen in years who used to be a toll collecter on the bridge told a story of a bunch of drunks who pointed to the lights of St. Ignace (the north end of the bridge) and wanted to know if that town was in Kentucky. (They had taken a wrong turn west of Detroit and went north instead of south and never realized it -- whatever.) There is also the much told, but officially denied, story of men who fell into the foundation as it was being laid.

Now it appears that Big Mack was the intended target of those Arab men who were buying all those disposable phones from Walmart. They are not saying how they know this but it is the story spreading here in Michigan (and presumably the rest of the country.)

They claim they were going to re-sell them for money but I find that a little difficult to believe, but if they were going to be used for bomb detonators, they did not need so many. I don't know what the truth is. I say hold on to them until law enforcement knows with absolute certainty what they were going to do with them.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

To Fly Safely

I do not know if I am being tongue-in-cheek here or deadly seriousl

Step 1. Arrive at airport and present flight credentials. (Having been subjected to a full identity and background check earlier before the credentials were granted.) All luggage will be taken, examined and sealed; you will not see it again until you arrive at your destination.

Step 2. Leave all carry-ons such as keys, wallets, watches, cameras, ink pens etc. after watching them be examined and locked in a small box containing only your items which will be placed on the plane in a seperate compartment.

Step 3. Enter a small private booth and completely undress placing every item of clothing in a box which will be examined, sealed and placed on your flight (you hope.)

Step 4. Enter a scanner which will scan your body for anomalies (any of which will be investigated by a person of the gender and age you fill most comfortable nude in front of.)

Step 5. Enter another booth where you will be given a simple garment and a pair of slippers to wear during the flight. Any medication or baby formula or other "must haves" must be ordered in advance and will be obtained and placed on the flight by the airline.

Step 6. Enter loading area where only passengers and authorized personel are allowed and all are carefully watched for signs of potential danger.

Step 7. Board plane and enjoy your flight

Step 8. At destination enter a designated area where your possessions are returned and you are allowed to replace your flight garments with your own clothing. I hope everything is on the right plane.

Sounds like such fun. Blasted terrorists anyway.

Thursday, August 10, 2006



We knew there were people who believed that our government is responsible for 9 - 11.

Now there has been a major terrorist plot thwarted in the UK.

What are the kooks saying about this.

Some are saying the terrorists are fools who are playing into the hands of our government while others are saying it's a total farce. Some say it is all a plot to keep Republicans in power.

These half-wits will probably call God a liar on Judgement Day.

H/T Brainster.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Missing "Students"

The pictures of the missing Egyptian students. Their names are given at Northeast Intelligence Network

H/T A commenter at Jihad Watch.

Poverty and Crime

About 16, 17 years ago I was a manager at a fast-food joint. Now I had very little say in what my employees would make as that was decided by the owner of the place, and all new employees, except management candidates, started at minimum wage. That wasn't so bad for the high school kids who handled the afternoon and early evening, but after 10 PM they had to 18 or older. Minimum wage gave me three kinds of young adults for closers: college students who needed just a little money for incidental expenses, the desperate, and petty criminals and I had all three. One young man who was about 22 or 23 stands out in my memory. He had been fired a couple weeks before from a factory job and because of the nature of his dismisal, he did not qualify for unemployment. We gave him a job and he lasted less than three hours. He was one of a handful of people that I actually fired (and firing someone is a very hard thing to do and I never enjoyed doing it.) He found out he was making minimum wage and that was a little less than half of what he had been making. His attitude quickly become insufferable and he started throwing things yelling he refused to work for minimum wage and started demanding more or he would really make trouble. I took him into the office and fired him. About a month later one my of my employees came in and tossed a newspaper to me. The man I had fired had been arrested for driving a stolen car.

He did not steal that car because I fired him. I fired him and he had been fired from his previous (better paying job) for the same reason he stole that car. He believed he was entitled and I, as well as his previous employer and the world at large had denied him what he believed he was entitled to. So he simply took it.

People say that poverty is the root-cause of crime and that may be somewhat true on many occasions, but I do not believe that it is the entire picture. If it was, then all crimes would be commited by poor people and the wealthy, affluent and comfortable would never commit a crime. We all know that it doesn't work that way. Also there is the question of many poor or struggling people who would never - ever commit a crime (and they are probably the majority of poor and struggling people.) This too does not fit the paradigm.

I do not believe that poverty alone explains crime or explains why lower economic rungs tend to be more obviously criminal than the working or middle class. I believe that the crime and entrenched poverty have a common origin; that is the belief that someone owes you a living. I see it every day even at work. Usually the ones who complain the worst about their pay are the worst workers, (though we do have one exception -- a hard worker is forever complaining.) but they believe that they are entitled to good pay simply by having a factory job.

Many people in poverty have been on welfare for many generations and have grown up believing they had a right to it. They have never been responsible for their own income and many of them probably would not know what to do if they had to take full responsibility for themselves. (An example of this is Hurricane Katrina. Most of the younger victims were very poor and had been taken care of by the government all their lives. When the hurricane happened and no one was there to tell them what to do and make it happen for them, they died.)

Anyway they grow up believing that they are entitled to a livelihood and if it doesn't meet their expectations, they are entitled to take it. The world owes them and they have the right to it. In their twisted worldview, they are only taking what the world owes them.

This also explains the crimes of richer people. Many of them believe that their income entitles them to better things, and to a degree it does. If current condititions do not meet what they believe they are entitled to, they will resort to illegal, or at least immoral means.

Crime does not happen only for economic reasons. If it did then welfare would have eliminated or at least seriously reduced it. It is born of believing you are owed and in some twisted sense, you have the right to what you are trying to take. I believe that it is the sense of entitlement, and not mere poverty that causes crime.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What a Day

Last night around 5:30 I got a phone call from our plant manager telling me not to come in today because the stuff we were supposed to paint had not come in. ( -EXPELTIVE DELETED- JIT "Just in Time" manufacturing philosophy!) So I kick back thinking I have today off and will maybe wind working Saturday to make up for it.

I take it easy this morning figuring I have all day right? Now normally I get out of work at 1:30 PM, but today at 2:00 I get a phone call. Plant manager. Can I come in and work for a few hours? Sure so I go in and start at 2:45. It seems that JIT not only has us screwed up but the Chrysler plant the parts are supposed to be going to as well. They want the parts expedited TONIGHT! (They arrived at our plant this afternoon, our supplier is having some sort of problem getting their product out.) I figured about 4 hours to cover show up time and wind up working 6, almost a full day.

We did suprisingly well considering the number of people we had and the fact that we had management doing hourly work. In this situation coming in is voluntary -- and we have people who would rather go hungry (metaphorically speaking) and whine about it than work at an unscheduled time. We got em out and we'll have Saturday off, assuming no further problems in getting parts.

I would still like to get my hands on the idiot that came up with the JIT manufacturing philosophy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tag and I am It

Born Again Redneck tagged me so here we go.

One Book That Changed My Life: Well other than the Bible I would have to say The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

A book I have read more than once: Many, many many: The Lord of the Rings, A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, Brave New World by Huxley, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, just for starters

One Book I would want on a desert island: One on how to survive on desert Island ;-D

One Book that made me laugh: Actually it is a series of books based on puns called the Myth-adventures by Robert Aspirin.

One Book that made me cry: I came close to tears with the major death (no spoiler given) at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

One Book I wish I had written. Have to think about that one.

One Book you wish had never been written: Several, The Koran, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, The Feminine Mystique. These books have screwed up society big time.

One Book I am currently reading: The Golden Bough by James Frazier. I have been working on it for some time now (very long, and involved -- you frequently have to stop and think.)

One Book I have been meaning to read: The Koran. I have tried several times but my mind goes into resistance mode at what is being presented.

Now to tag
Lone Pony
Armed and Christian
AB Freedom

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ever Hear of a Planemo?

Too big and too hot to be a planet, to small and cold to be a star. They discovered a pair of them orbiting each other some 400 LY away. I always thought they called those things Brown Dwarfs, but I guess they call them "Planetary Mass Objects" or Planemo for short. I guess brown dwarfs are a little bigger than planemos. hmmm.

You know when I went to school, stars were spheres of fusion heated gas in a careful balance of gravity and heat, while planets were the rocky or gaseous things that orbited them. Now we have Kuiper Objects, Gas Planets, Terrestrial Planets, Brown Dwarfs, Black Dwarfs and now Planemos. They even argue over the definition of a planet, and whether or not Pluto or worlds like Sedna or Quaoar are planets or Kuiper objects or what. Already a Kuiper Object larger than Pluto has been detected but they will not call it that 10th planet because they don't even know the parameters of the word planet anymore.

I wonder if we don't sometimes complicate things just for the sake of complicating them.

A Decent Blog

While poking around at Captain's Quarters, I noticed a comment by A Massachusetts Republican that intrigued me and decided to check him out. I am glad I did. I don't agree with every word he says, but he is quite good. The blog appears to only a couple of months old but he's off to a good start.

How can you argue with someone whose blog says This is MY corner of the web, so "You will respect my athoritie!" (sic)

A Colonel Speaks.

I have a nephew who is just about finished with basic training in the Army. I am very proud of him, though he doesn't know it . . . yet.

Gawfer has a link to a video of a graduation speech at the same camp my nephew is at and it is a moving and brilliant speech. I wish every college professor, high school teacher, journalist, and entertainer in this country could hear it. Sadly the "Blame America First" crowd would probably either miss the point or hold him in contempt as an ignorant soldier, which he clearly is not.

Watch the video.

Ok, I am having problems linking directly to the posting. The title of the post is LTC Randolph C. White Jr. Delivers Infantry Graduation Speech

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dress Codes

I remember when I was in my early twenties in college but attending an event at a church camp, I was sitting in the dining room with friends including a young female friend of mine who was wearing a flannel shirt that was buttoned only about half-way up, and I was desperately trying to keep my mind out of the gutter (not to mention my eyes). Young men have enough troubles with this sometimes and even the best intentioned of them may have difficulties in this area and stuff like that does not help. I don't believe the (then young but she is my age) lady intended to create eye strain; she just got careless.

Enter the dress code. At least one school in Texas is banning the showing of "too much cleavage" and I can't say that is a bad idea. Now I enjoy seeing an attractive lady as much as any guy, but there are times when one's mind should be on something else, like classwork. Some say that this creates a policy of policing the students when they should be teaching. Well part of teaching is making sure the atmosphere is conducive to learning. I wish more schools, and other places, would follow this example.

As purely an aside, women show more of their skin in church today then a harlot would show in a tavern 80 years ago. Now I am not saying that they should dress as woman dressed in 1900 but people need to keep this in mind. (I believe that Christians of either gender should dress at the modest end of contemporary fashion but are not required to be old fashioned in their dress.)

A bikini is a wonderful sight at a beach or pool, but wearing one while you walk down the street makes you little more than a traffic hazzard.

More Wisdom From Dr. Sanity

I am beginning to think this woman is one of the smartest women in the world. She could probably think and reason circles around Madam Hillary. Today she takes on a major paranoia that the extreme left is foisting on America.

Before I say what it is, Dr Sanity is an Agnostic, not a Christian so she is not protecting her own religious beliefs from criticism.

She discusses, quite intelligently, the paranoid fear that Bush and the Christians are a Christian Taliban who wish to turn America into a Theocracy.

She discusses the fear, its origin, how senseless it is, and most importantly, the real reason the left fears and hates the Christian religion, some of them to the point that they are more afraid of Jerry Falwell than they are of the greater danger, the Islamic Jihad.

Here is a simple observation that she makes:

When was the last time you heard of a Christian fundamentalist nation? When was the last time that Christianity killed non-believers and tortured those who ran afoul of the religious laws?

If you answered, "the middle ages"--you are correct.

Why just last year, there was a peaceful transition of power in the only Christian theocracy in the world--the Vatican. Not a single person was killed or tortured as the new Pope was elected and installed.

(Actually people were officially killed by "Christians" for religious reasons up through the 1600s and a few oddballs have killed on their own in the name of Christianity, but why quibble? Her general thinking is correct.)

Read the posting. (The comments are also quite good) This is one of the reasons that I read the good Doctor daily.

Barney and Swamp Castle

Father: One day lad all of this will all be yours.

Son: What? The curtains?

Father: Not the curtains lad, All that you can see stretched over the hills and valleys of this land; this will be your kingdom.

Son: But mother ...

Father: Father, Father! I'm your Father

Son: But Father! I don't want any of that.

Father: Listen! I built this kingdom up from nothing. When I first started here all I had was swamp. All the kings said I was daft to build a castle in a swamp but I built it all the same just to show em. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp so I built a third one. That burned down, fell over and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up."

(The fourth one probably stayed up because it had a solid foundation, namely the ruins of the previous three.)

You cannot buid a substantial building in a swamp unless you do one of two things. You have to drain the swamp or you have to sink an adequate foundation into the bottom of the swamp. Then you can build on it.

We all know of Barney, the purple dinosaur and his "I love you! You love me!" and la la la. He is built on the premise that peace can exist only if people decide not fight but just get along. Sadly it does not work that way. Building peace on that foundation is like building a castle in the middle of a swamp. It has no foundation.

Peace must have a foundation and the foundation of peace is respect. Respect can come in a number of ways. You can like and appreciate each other; such a relationship would rarely include a fight. You may dislike them, even intensely, but you recognize their rights and give them their space, so long as they give you yours as well. Or it may be a respect born of fear. Peace can exist so long as one of these three conditions exist. If you try to build peace without the foundation of one form of respect or another, you are just building a castle in the middle of a swamp.

The Jihadists do not like us. That respect does not exist.

They do not fear us. That respect does not exist.

They will not give us or Israel our space because they consider both illegitimate. They will not give us our space because they believe all space belongs to them so that form of respect does not exist.

We cannot make them like us (and the Barneyites who think we can are living in a la-la land) and their core beliefs require that they not recognize our rights. If we want peace with them, we have no choice but to make it a peace based on their fear of us, until they can grow up as a society to the point of recognizing the rights of others.

I, for one, would love to live in Barney's world of everyone just getting along, but it's not going to happen. Furthermore, I am not going to waste resources building a palace of peace in the swamp of disrespect. If we want peace we must either drain the swamp or force a solid foundation into it. Otherwise peace is a fool's errand.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Skip's Rambles

My younger brother, who occasionally comments on my blog, has started his own.

He only has a couple of posts so far, but drop by and say "Hi" to him.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Here is An Easy Trivia Question

3 Songs

The Unicorn by the Irish Rovers

There was green alligators and long-necked geese.
There was humpy bumpy camels and chimpanzees.
There was catsandratsandelephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the Unicorn.

Cover of the Rolling Stone by Dr Hook and The Medicine Show

Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash

What do these three very different songs have in common?

Actually this is an easy one.

UPDATE: Ok, my brother answered it. The lyrics to all three songs, each a different genre', were written by the same person: Shel Silverstein who also wrote a lot of poetry and I especially appreciate his book on giving and gratitude, The Giving Tree.

Just What Am I?

I describe my political position as "center right", (I consider the far right to be the survivalists, the "sovereign citizens", the various racial supremacy groups, and nuts like Phelps). Yet some people think I am an extemist because I do not support same-sex marriage, consider abortion to be murder, and believe that while a general seperation of church and state is a good thing, an absolute seperation is not possible, because a person's beliefs will inescapably color their politics.

I read the speeches and beliefs of John F Kennedy, who was considered a Liberal in his day and find what appears to me to be a kindred spirit. In those days a liberal was someone who cared about those less fortunate than themselves, treated racial and ethnic minorities as equals and treated women with a bit more respect. In that more civilized time liberals and conservatives agreed on the moral, ethical, and international issues and they were considered givens. I would have been considered a liberal up until the time of the anti-war movement.

During the Vietnam Conflict, the definition of liberal began to move away from the treatment of one's fellow man and moved toward an anti-war (or at least an anti-American-victory) mindset and a loosening of sexual standards. During this time period a person with my beliefs would have been considered a "Moderate".

As the 80s progressed, those who believed in the values that were shared by Conservatives and Liberals during the 50s began to be considered "Conservative" and now we are "Right Wing Nuts"

I can really feel for the pseudo-William Jennings Bryan character in the movie Inherit the Wind when the faux-Darrow character told him, "We used to be good friends, but you abandoned me by standing still."

I would take that as a compliment. I would consider it the mark of steadfast character.

I am a 1950s liberal, a 1970s moderate, and a 1990s conservative. As long as the definitions refuse to stand still, the words that describe me will change. Hopefully the person at the center of it all will not.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"Cars and Old Lace"

There a lot of movies older than I am that I really like and one of them is the 1942 Cary Grant movie Arsenic and Old Lace where Cary Grant plays a drama critic who discovers that his two sweet, loveable old aunts are actually serial killers. (It doesn't sound like a comedy but it is -- dark humor must have been more acceptable in the early 40s) The reason that these two darling old women were killing men is because the men were lonely and would happier if they were reunited loved ones. They justified it as an act of kindness.

Sadly, these two elderly ladies are not fictional and were not doing it as an act of misguided kindness but out of greed and heartlessness.

Do we want to execute elderly ladies. Truth be told I would rather not execute anyone but sometimes justice demands that people die for what they do. Fortunately it is not my decision.

Speaking of executions, this guy should be thanking God that Michigan does not have the death penalty, because he is a prime candidate for it. If there is one crime I will never excuse, it is the murder of children, especially your own. This man is the lowest of the low. (Of course murdering the mother of your children, as this person did, is a horrible thing to do as well.)

I don't like violence but when someone intentionally hurts children for their own gain or pleasure I abandon mercy. I can't say what I would like to see done to his guy but I have a very good imagination.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's an Emotional Thing.

John Lennon's song Imagine was a hymn to the Communist ideal which did not match its horrible reality. I'll admit the vision in that song is a beautiful thing but so is the thought of certain beautiful women on my arm, and about as likely.

I am against Communism, not ONLY because it is immoral (though that is a problem) but for a much more practical reason. It simply does not work and all the talk, work, and dreaming of a workers paradise is just a pipe dream. Communism is based on a flawed understanding of human nature. Humans are intrinsically selfish and will work only for their own benefits. When we operate according to the beautiful dream of from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, abilities become minimal and needs become maximum as everyone tries to get as much out of the system as they can while putting as little into the system as they can get away with.

Capitalism, while flawed, has the advantage that while hard work does not guarantee success, it does improve the odds, thus one is motivated to work and work hard. Hard work creates wealth even if the worker does not see it (though a wise employer will make sure the workers share his success.)

A lot of people who would prefer the communist world have admitted that it is flawed and will never work. What is troubling is to watch these people talk about it. An elderly gentleman I know, who is a Greek immigrant from the late 1940s was practically in tears as he discussed the failure of Communism. "I have no dreams left. There is nothing to hope for. It failed." were words he told me when the Berlin Wall fell. He knew Communism would never work and this led him to despair.

I know a few other people who have an emotional love of Communism (or at least strong love-hate feelings) and it is saddening to talk to them. Their eyes glaze over at the dream that will never be because they now know it's impossible.

The sad thing is that they have hated Capitalism for so long that it is now rooted deep in their souls. What works, albeit imperfectly, is something they hate while they are in love with an illusion and they know it.

What hope is there for such people?