Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Soviet Constitution

Out of sheer curiosity I took a brief look at the Soviet Constitution.

It is an astonishing, and dishonest, document to say the very least. Ninety percent of it is methods of administration and some surprising little absurdities, but the guaranteed rights of Soviet Citizens was a bit of an eyeful, and was by far the most intersting part.

Here's a real beauty from their equivalent of the Bill of the Rights. (or Chapter Seven Rights in their terms.)

Article 54. Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed inviolability of the person. No one may be arrested except by a court decision or on the warrant of a procurator.

Article 55. Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed inviolability of the home. No one may, without lawful grounds, enter a home against the will of those residing in it.

Article 56. The privacy of citizens, and of their correspondence, telephone conversations, and telegraphic communications is protected by law.

Article 57. Respect for the individual and protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens are the duty of all state bodies, public organisations, and officials.

Citizens of the USSR have the right to protection by the courts against encroachments on their honour and reputation, life and health, and personal freedom and property.

Article 58. Citizens of the USSR have the right to lodge a complaint against the actions of officials, state bodies and public bodies. Complaints shall be examined according to the procedure and within the time-limit established by law.

Actions by officials that contravene the law or exceed their powers, and infringe the rights of citizens, may be appealed against in a court in the manner prescribed by law.
Citizens of the USSR have the right to compensation for damage resulting from unlawful actions by state organisations and public organisations, or by officials in the performance of their duties.

Article 59. Citizens' exercise of their rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of their duties and obligations.

Citizens of the USSR are obliged to observe the Constitution of the USSR and Soviet laws, comply with the standards of socialist conduct, and uphold the honour and dignity of Soviet citizenship.
Article 59 appears to be an escape clause to justify the state ignoring all those other rights. These absolutely essential rights seem to have been totally ignored by the authorities of the old Soviet government. (Numerous examples could be cited but it's virtually common knowledge, except amongst those who believe that only America can be wrong.)

Actually it's full of high sounding stuff that in reality was never observed, and it is full of these escape clauses that enable the government to do whatever it deemed fit.

Or their "Freedom of Speech and the Press" Take special note of what is I have marked in Green.

Article 50. In accordance with the interests of the people and in order to strengthen and develop the socialist system, citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly, meetings, street processions and demonstrations.

Exercise of these political freedoms is ensured by putting public buildings, streets and squares at the disposal of the working people and their organisations, by broad dissemination of information, and by the opportunity to use the press, television, and radio.

I think it comes down to this article

Article 39. Citizens of the USSR enjoy in full the social, economic, political and personal rights and freedoms proclaimed and guaranteed by the Constitution of the USSR and by Soviet laws. The socialist system ensures enlargement of the rights and freedoms of citizens and continuous improvement of their living standards as social, economic, and cultural development programmes are fulfilled.

Enjoyment by citizens of their rights and freedoms must not be to the detriment of the interests of society or the state, or infringe the rights of other citizens.

I can't help but notice that it includes the "right" to things like education, healthcare, a job, the right to have museums (no kidding! Article 46!) The rights of the accused on the other hand are not well defined.

A lot of what they wrote sounded good on paper, but a bill of rights is only as good as the people who have power are determined to let it be. The fact that so many of the articles included the escape clause "in the interest of Communism" or words to that effect frequently nullified the meaning of the rest of the clause. You were free to speak so long as what you said was in the "interest of Communism". Sounds like Political Correctness was written right into that Constitution.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Apologies Again

I will be gone probably until Thursday due to work and a long overdue visit to my parents.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How About This?

I admire our founding fathers but there are things they did not anticipate happening, like huge bills voted on in Congress that no one has ever read. Something tells me that our Founders, and most later statesmen as well would have been horrified at the mere thought of an unread bill becoming the law of the land.

I don't think they ever considered this possibility.

Another proposed Constitutional Amendment that will never pass.

When a bill is presented to the full House and full Senate for final vote nine tenths of the given house must be present and the bill shall be read aloud in its entirety to the assembled legislators by one or more readers designated by the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate. The final vote shall be held at least twenty four hours after the reading of the bill is completed except in the case of a declaration of war or response to a major natural disaster which would require an immediate vote. A legislator that was not present for the reading may not vote on that bill. All legislators will be given at least twenty four hour notification prior to such a reading.

They'd hate it. They'd have to know what they were voting for. I'd especially like it if all the readings were live on C-Span.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Nation's Greatest Accomplishment

Great because no one else has ever done it.

A recent reunion shot of the crew of Apollo 11.

The three greatest positive historic events of the Twentieth Century

1) The rebirth of Israel.

2) The retaking of the Temple Mount by Israel.

3) Apollo 11.

The moon is the first major land mass of which we can name the date and name of the first person to walk on it.

I was sitting in my living room with my family and two elderly neighbors (one of whom was a WWI vet) as we watched the indistinct images of the first moonwalk. I, being all of 12, felt such great hope for the future. We were on our way. We would have a large space station soon with a small base on the moon. Another ten years and there would be tourists going to the moon. twenty to twenty five years and we would do the same to Mars.

Quid non? Why Not?

We're fooling around in low-earth orbit. Yes it's expensive but the nation that dominates space would gain a lot on earth as well. Some say there is nothing of value on the moon, but we have barely even looked at it. Think of it! Billions of years of no air or water! What compounds would occur in nature if they didn't react to contact with water or air? What medical or industrial use would we find for such compounds that would almost have to exist? We have no idea of what's really up there. The cure for cancer? The cure for AIDS? Something that can be used as another source of power? Will China find out before we do? We're not going to find them in a few hundred pounds of rock.

We have a formal plan to go back but do we still have the national will to do it? Or have the mindless screaming mobs of the blame America first crowd totally sapped us of our national will to even survive, let alone prosper?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Half-Blood Prince

The prince was half-blood and the price was full blood.

I don't have a lot to say about it except that I did enjoy it but there was so much missing. Sadly you almost have to have read the book to really understand what is going on in the movie. Until the big event at the end of the movie (avoiding a spoiler here) it was almost a comedy with Harry and Ron and their girl problems and teen-aged angst problems.

In many ways this, and its corresponding book are not so much stand alone, but lay the ground work for the seventh and final installation. (Or in the case of the movie, installation 7 and 7 ½.)

It lacks the relevance to the current world situation that Rawlings inadvertently(?) included in The Order of the Phoenix such as political correctness endangering innocent people because those in power felt threatened by the people knowing what was really happening.

The girl who played Ron's initial girl-friend, Lavender Brown, really did a good job of playing a world-class ditz. I just hope she was really acting and not just being herself. Also Emma Watson, who plays Hermoine, is really turning out to be an attractive young woman who also quite a good actress; I was quite unimpressed with her early on and am pleasantly surprised.

Three stars. I expect the finale to have 4+.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bit of a Problem

Computer is now in the shop. Windows won't start up. See what happens.

I am now using a library computer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Capricorn One Was Fiction

When I was in college the movie Capricorn One was released that was a fictionalized account of a faked landing on Mars.

We are approaching the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 and some people think we still haven't gone to the moon yet, even during the Apollo mission.

I have seen every charge (that I am aware of) leveled by those who believe the moonlandings were staged convincingly answered from various sources, but I have my own objection to the conspiracy theory.

Twelve men have walked on the moon. Others were involved in such a way that they would have known about a hoax. There would have been dozens if not hundreds of people who would have known that it was fake. All it would take is for one of them to talk. If it were a hoax it would be worth millions to the whistle blower. None of them have, and unlike Capricorn One, no one has tried to kill an astronaut to keep them from talking. A couple of the astronauts have died and no deathbed confessions of a hoax. By now someone on the inside would have talked.

Furthermore would we have fooled Russian scientists who were watching the Apollo landings very closely?

I do sort of wonder though, had the Soviets won the race to the moon would these questions be asked? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps by different people. (Link shows intentions and prototypes of the Soviet LK Lander.)

We are approaching the 40th anniversary of one the greatest human triumphs in history.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Uncle Bob 1935 - 2009

He was the first uncle on my father's side that I got to know. As a very young child I knew him as the uncle who smoked cigars, always carried a beer in his hand and like to laugh. He was always laughing. And when Dad and Uncle Bob went places we kids we're almost always included. Dad and Uncle Bob always went to much more interesting places than Dad went with Mom; we went to junkyards, auction sales, and other such places. My brother says that Uncle Bob was Dad's big brother and best friend and that's the truth.

He lived just down the road from us, about four doors down, so he also a neighbor when I was younger. As a teenager my father was frequently on the road because of his job. When I needed assistance that Dad would normally give I could almost always turn to Uncle Bob for that assistance.

He was a through and through redneck, (and keep in mind that I do not consider that an insult). I couldn't picture him in a 3-pc suit or eating lobster. He had a bumper sticker that said God Guns and Guts made America Free. Let's Keep All Three. He was a a shadetree mechanic like no other and was the "king of cobble" who could do more with Duct Tape, a can of WD40, and wooden mallet than most could do with a garage full of proper tools. (Needless to say his "hero" was Red Green. But unlike Red Green, Uncle Bob was practical and made it work.)

He was also a prankster and loved a practical joke. You had to be on guard at all times around him or something would happen and you'd hear his booming laughter. He was also a good sport on the recieving end too.

As he aged he drank and smoked less and less and, with his second wife, enjoyed life more or more, including frequent trips to Alaska and Canada. I accompanied him and Dad on a few trips to Canada and Northern Ontario is the only place to fish.

When Dad had his stroke Uncle Bob was devestated. Uncle Bob died suddenly and without warning of a heart attack. This is very hard on Dad.

Update 12/13 His eyes have already been transplanted into a woman, identity unknown. His bone marrow appears to be a match for someone needing it. (From my mother.) A large number of organs were removed and are being used by those in need. It is some comfort to know this.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Karen Carpenter's Niece

Mindy Carpenter

As a singer she is very talented but she is not in her aunt's league. (But then who is?) She is at least as talented as most other recording artists today. Perhaps comparisons are unfair because no one can fill the shoes of Karen Carpenter; judged on her own personal talent she is quite good. All five of Richard's children will have to be compared to Karen as a singer and that would be intimidating no matter how talented they are. Of course her voice may improve drastically as she learns better vocal control, and she seems to hit the low notes in much the same manner as her aunt. Plus you see a bit of Karen in the area of her eyes, except that they're blue instead of brown.

What intrigues me is the song she chooses to sing.

And that middle-aged guy on the piano is her father, the same Richard Carpenter who accompanied a legend.

Update: This should really be a separate post but in consideration of the spiritual nature of young Miss Carpenter's performance, I will attach it here. I just lost an Uncle and he was very close to my Father. It was without warning and was a heart attack. He was my Dad's older brother. Please pray for my father.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Economic Good News(?)

Our economy lost only 565,000 jobs in June. That's the lowest since Bush was in the White House.

It's really quite amazing that this would be spun as a good thing. Fortunately the article is much more honest than the headline, but sadly too many read only the headlines.

We have more people on unemployment now than we've had since 1967 when we started keeping careful records of this.

I would consider a decline in new claims good news if there were other positive factors to go with it and I don't see it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Memories - - Stupid Fads

Over the years many fads of come and gone. Some of them were enjoyable and resurface from time to time, such as the hoola-hoop. Skate boarding was popular when I was a real young kid and became popular again some years ago and is still going strong.

Some fads are just plain dangerous. When I was in early high school there was a fad that supposedly killed a few kids in other places and schools acted quickly to end it. You would take a deep breath and hold it while a "friend" squeezed you so that you couldn't breath and you went into kind of a fit for a few seconds. Why did we do it? Cuz we were young and stupid.

Some fads were inexplicable but we all did it. Are you old to enough to remember how cool it was to have a banana seat on your bike. (For those who weren't around then a banana seat was a long narrow bicycle seat with a high bar behind it - - a sissy bar - - and very high steering handles. They were usually placed on smaller bikes. The bikes were designed with high "wheelies" in mind.)

As adults we may wonder what we were thinking but . . . hey . . . we were kids right? And we all survived it.

A little more dangerous fad that we participated in was another toy. A toy that may well have been based on a weapon. It was called A Pair of Clackers. They were a pair of hard plastic or acrylic balls attached to two strings that were attached to small handle. Kids would try to get the balls to bounce off each other as fast as possible for as long as possible. Trouble is that kids got hurt and rumors said that some kids even learned to use them as weapons.

They looked harmless but they weren't. Here is a video of a man using them. Imagine what could happen if a string broke or a ball shattered . . . as they did. I was in 8th grade when they appeared.

Some fads were completely harmless yet completely stupid. Imagine paying good money for cardboard box containing a perfectly ordinary rock with doll eyes glued to it! I didn't but people did. And some guy made a fortune off of the Pet Rock. This was one fad where I just shook my head at as people were lining up at Kmart to buy them. If I was determined to have a pet rock I would go out in the field and find the perfect rock and glue some eyes to it.. I think I was in the Navy at the time.

Some fads I took part in, like the banana seat. Some fads I was forbidden to take part in such as Clackers. Others I saw through and wasn't taken in, like the pet rock.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Reality Idea

How is this for a reality show?

You have two teams of 12 people each (reasonable gender and racial mix).

Team A 3 liberal educators, 3 liberal pundits, 3 union officers, 3 liberal entertainers.

Team B 12 similar conservatives.

Put each on a similar island with similar resources including plentiful water, arable land, wood and rock. Allow each person a personal knife, first aid kit, 3 changes of clothing, boots, a rain slick, one blanket, a few lighters, plus matches in waterproof container, an old army-style mess kit, 50 feet of rope, 300 feet of twine, notebook, several pens or pencils and a canteen. Give each team 4 hatchets, 4 saws, 4 hammers and agreed upon amount of nails as well as 3 guns and agreed upon ammo. No cell phones allowed but one computer for each team with power and protection from elements provided, along with a digital camera and video recorder. There will be a doctor nearby for real medical emergencies in either team.

They are allowed to keep and use anything they create.

No team will ever be forced to eject a team member but each team always has the option of ejection of one who is holding them back (limited to one person per week). They also have enough food for the first 60 days then they're on their own.

The objective is to live on that island a year. The winning team is the one who achieves the highest standard of living including quality of shelter, food supply and creature comforts. What we would learn is which group has a philosophy that is practical and which group consists of "get it done" type people.

I think I already know how it would work out.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Helen Thomas Shows Some Integrity

It appears that Hell has indeed frozen over.

It is a pattern of controlling the press. Who would have ever thought that Helen Thomas would say that about about a liberal government?