Saturday, October 31, 2009

Unemployment

It is beginning to be clear that this economic recession is ending for the greedy bankers on Wall Street. Recovery is well under way, the good times and the obscene bonuses can start back up.

It is equally clear that unemployment is going to continue rising for many months, maybe many years. It may be a long, long time before the good jobs start coming back.

You will have a hard time continuing to believe in the wonderful American Way if you have lost your job, your pension, you have lost your house to foreclosure, and then finally when it became clear that you could not support or protect your family, your marriage went belly up too.

Think about all the young people who just now should be entering the labor pool. Maybe they just graduated from High School or a Community College. Maybe they even got a four year university degree complete with massive student loans. If they cannot find decent work for several years after graduation, this will have a lifelong impact on them.

This entire problem was caused by greed. The greedy business people who shut factories and moved the good manufacturing jobs overseas to lower wage rates (and increase profits). They also did this in order to avoid having to obey pesky regulations like child labor laws, the minimum wage, workplace safety, and the environmental rules.

The legislators who let this happen without any sort of penalty are also at fault. All of the deregulation mania since the actor Ronald Rayguns was President also played a big part in setting the stage for the collapse of capitalism as we know it.

The smart government economists knew that this bursting of the bubble was coming, but they kept right on eliminating rules and regulations anyway, just to keep the rich getting even richer.










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Health Care Reform Will Exclude 12 Million Americans

I either change the channel or press mute as soon as the top House Republican, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio comes on the TV. This guy is revolting. He seems to be perfectly happy to sit by and watch people die needlessly because they are excluded from the American health care system.

If some form of “health care reform” does eventually pass, it will be over the strong objections of repulsive people like Congressman Boner.

The latest forecast is that 96% of Americans will be included under the new health care system. So that only leaves 4% of 300 million people, or about 12 million people who still will not have access to modern medicine. This is roughly the same as three times the population of the entire Detroit metropolitan area.

These rich bastards in Washington, D.C. are out of touch. They just don’t get it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Drone Attacks

The police and the military in America do not have the authority to kill anyone they think is a bad guy even if he is a child rapist or a murderer. In America the system of justice has a well defined process to make sure that innocent people are not punished for crimes they did not commit. "Innocent until proven guilty," etc.

Even in the terrible fog of warfare like in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan soldiers have to be very careful that they do not violate the human rights of the people that are confronting them. Certainly they cannot just on the spur of the moment decide to kill someone who might be a bad person. If they treat people improperly they risk their careers and perhaps risk going to jail.

So how does America justify the increasing killing done by remotely controlled drone aircraft? If a mistake is made, and innocent people die, who do we hold accountable? In a democracy this is vital. Our self image does not allow us to think of ourselves in the same way that we think about the Nazi SS storm troopers or the KGB. I am having a hard time working out how these drones and missiles can legally be utilized to kill people when remotely controlled by people thousands of miles away. Doing it by remote control makes all this killing far too anonymous. There is something really wrong about all this that I am having a hard time defining.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Pubic Option

When congress ended slavery, passed civil rights legislation, the minimum wage, FDIC, social security, and medicare the House and Senate in Washington, D.C. did not build in ways for individual states to opt out. The same applies with regard to national standards for bridge and road construction, the environment, workplace safety, child labor laws, and all the legislation regarding interstate commerce. Of course the individual states are not allowed to opt out.

The opt-out approach is more appropriately described as a cop-out. At the very best. At worst it is dangerously divisive. It encourages the type of thought patterns and behaviors which resulted in the civil war.

This is not a states rights issue. It is not the constitutionally guaranteed right of the individual states to opt out of any legislation that they don’t much care for. In some cases individual states have been allowed to enact more stringent legislation - California air pollution and fuel economy standards are an example. But the individual states cannot choose to opt out of federal clean air legislation.

I live in state of Texas, but just about five miles from the state of New Mexico. I suspect that the racist, red neck politicians we have in our state capitol here in Texas will want to opt out of the Public Option just in order to make a point. Sort of a slap in the face to President Obama and his liberal friends (like me).

The elected officials in New Mexico seem to have a bit more sensible and honest view of the fact that poor people truly are dying unnecessarily because they are not getting proper medical care. I suspect that they will not choose to opt out. Unless fiscal pressure requires New Mexico to do so. So in practice the opt out approach means this is the law of the land until it becomes a little bit difficult. Then a group of red necks in the state capitols around the country can just opt out.

No, being allowed to choose not to obey the laws of the land is the wrong way to approach this in any democracy which is dedicated to the rule-of-law. If a state wants to opt out of a federal law it should only be allowed after approval by a 2/3 majority of the people voting in a state wide election.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Louis C.K. Stand Up Comedy


Louis C.K. is without any doubt as funny as George Carlin or Richard Pryor.

Well, that is my opinion, but lets be honest at it. That is what having your own blog is all about. You can say stuff that is really truly your own opinion, and screw what anyone else thinks. That is why I have “comments” turned off, but I do show my e-mail address. I you want to talk to me, then email me. A few people do. But if you want to use my blog as a vehicle to spread your own thoughts, you can just stick it up your ass.

Anyways back to Louis C.K. Stomach hurting laughing. Just unbelievable insight. Absolutely wonderful comedy.

The back of the DVD case says, “Louis C.K. is a master at creating an atmosphere of fearless honesty onstage that would seem brutal if it were not so completely relatable and suffocatingly hilarious. His exploration of life after 40 lays to waste politically correct images of marriage, children, sex and race with stories that we have all lived and thoughts we have all had…but would rarely admit to. It’s the realities of life that have left Louis feeling chewed up and will have you laughing until your body feels pain.”

The above was written by some lying marketing asshole, but it about 97% true anyway. Louis C.K. and this DVD are so damn funny that I was laughing so hard it scared my dog!
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Jerusalem

When I was traveling in the mid-east I visited the Dome of the Rock in the old city of Jerusalem.
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The current building houses a religious site which is considered sacred to several religions. (Hebrew: הַר הַבַּיִת‎, Har haBáyit) known as Mount Moriah and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Arabic: الحرم القدسي الشريف‎, al-haram al-qudsī ash-sharīf) There have been religious buildings on this site for at least 2,000 years. Ownership of this location has transferred between the various sects many times. Supposedly the muslim prophet Mohamed ascended to heaven riding his horse from this site.

This bickering between the Muslims, Christians, and Jews over the ancient city of Jerusalem and its various holy sites is all so silly and absurd. Especially so when it changes from just ugly words to bombings and death.

I used to think that the United Nations should own Jerusalem so that they could guarantee equal access to people of any religious faith including those who do not have faith in any religion. But over the last 40 years it has gradually become apparent to me that the UN is no longer neutral. The UN has shown clear biases to one side or the other on many occasions.

Jerusalem has caused so much grief over the millennia that it now is almost purely evil. Any hint of the claimed positive aspects of organized religions is now long gone. Maybe the best idea would be simply to completely bulldoze the site. A few old commercial airliners could be crashed into the site when flown by remote control.

Like in New York City, a multi-cultural monument could be erected commemorating all the evil, death, and destruction which has been caused over the years by the ignorance and dogmatic faith of the various organized religions.

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Military Coup in America?

In retrospect it is now clear that the second term of President George Bush Jr. and his right wing helper and heavy Richard Cheney was illegitimate. They were not voted-in by the electorate. This was clearly a coup of sorts.

In Afghanistan we see that the duly elected President, a linguist and flamboyant dresser by the name of Hamid Karzai, has just finished a period where he engineered the largest fraudulent democratic election in history. And then for several weeks he refused to accept that the vote had been extensively rigged even when his own elections commission said it had been. He refused to obey the laws of his own country and order a re-run between him and the person with the second most votes. Only after two weeks of very heavy arm twisting by the leaders of the EU, NATO, and the USA did Karsai finally, very grudgingly, agree to obey the laws of his own country and hold a second round of elections.

This is taking place in a country where for eight years the USA and NATO have been trying to "build democracy." America has spent billion of dollars and has sacrificed the lives of many brave young soldiers. Yet the government in Afghanistan is still widely regarded as one of the very most corrupt regimes in the entire world.

Even in the face of this failure at democracy building, the American political right wing and the American military want to send in many more troops and get America far more deeply involved. Vietnam style. The top American general in Afghanistan was not getting the response he wanted from his boss, the civilian President Mr. Obama, so he began an open and strident public relations campaign. He and his staff leaked confidential one-sided documents to the news media and he travelled around the world giving speeches and holding press conferences trying to convince other world leaders that his boss, the civilian President of the United States, was making the wrong decision.

This guy Stanley A. McChrystal is way out of order. His behavior has gone far beyond the bounds of what is appropriate conduct for an officer and a gentleman.

The military in America reports to the Commander-In-Chief, a civilian named Barack H. Obama. By engaging in these sorts of games General McChrystal probably has engaged in treasonous conduct. At the very, very kindest he should be fired and shamed. More realistically, by all rights he should be forced out the military with a less than honorable discharge, and he should lose all of his pension rights. Or maybe this man should be openly called a traitor and be sent to jail or even the firing squad.

This may sound like a rather harsh assessment, but I think not. When a top General in the American military attempts to openly and publicly overrule the civilian President of the United States this is as close to a military coup as we have seen.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sweet Judy Blue Eyes

Remember the elegant Steven Stills song called Sweet Judy Blue Eyes? It was written about Judy Collins.

I recently had the pleasure of watching her perform. She still stings like an angel, and she still has blue eyes.

But Judy Collins is now 70 years old. There is something terribly wrong about the feelings I am having. I know I should just accept that she has gotten old, and be happy that she didn’t give out along the way like Janis Joplin and so many others.

I am finding this very difficult. For some reason with just a minimal amount of adjustment I was able to readily accept a 68 year old Joan Baez. I met Jane Goodall in person a few years ago. She is now 75 and is still incredibly attractive and honestly downright beguiling. I didn’t think it could be possible to have those kinds of feelings and hormonal urges directed towards a 75 year old woman.

I don’t know why seeing Judy Collins in the form of a blue haired grandmother is so shocking to me…but it is. This feels like some kind of time warp, or maybe a Torchwood type of rift in the fabric of space and time.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Juarez

The annual murder rate in Juarez has now reached 133 per 100,000 people living there. This makes it the highest anywhere in the world, and thus the most dangerous city in the world.

Just for comparison, New York City had a murder rate of 6 per 100,000 last year.

A fairly high percentage of the cars which I see on the road in El Paso, Texas USA now have Mexican license plates. For at least 50 years I thought that El Paso, Texas was without any doubt the asshole of the world. In a way these horrible events in our sister city confirms my earlier thoughts.

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Immigration

Last night (October 22, 2009) on PBS television there was an excellent interview of the former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew by Charlie Rose. The television guy Rose kept rudely interrupting this gentleman, but despite Rose’s arrogance and discourtesy it was an excellent interview.

Lee Kuan Yew is silver haired, but his thoughts are more modern, sensible, well thought out, and up-to-date than most of the 25 to 30 year old Americans I know. He has a more accurate picture of America and its role during the next century than anyone I have ever heard speak. It was a true pleasure to absorb his thoughts.

He had many wonderful insights, but one that sticks in my mind are his observations about immigration. Both Japan and China fail to receive enough immigrants. Immigration can be very helpful to a country, and certainly has been proven to be extremely useful to America. But not immigration by common laborers and fruit pickers. What has helped America prosper so much is the immigration by responsible, educated, intelligent, hard working people. The doctors, computer specialists, and physicists who are not allowed the freedoms in their native countries that we take for granted in America.

His view on China and how America should react to China’s growth and its fundamental acceptance of capitalism and the free market was nothing short of outstanding.

LINK: http://www.charlierose.com/guest/view/1346

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Too Big To Fail Is Too Big

It is so refreshing to see new ideas about re-regulation of the financial markets coming out into the open.

Since President Ronald Raygun’s time in office, almost all of the important laws protecting the American economy which were implemented after the Great Depression of the 1930’s have either been eliminated or circumvented by the fundamentalist, deregulation-activists so that the wealthy bankers and industrialists can get even richer at the expense of the rest of the population.

We have now reached the point where the top 1% of well off people earn as much as the bottom 95% of the American population. This is unsustainable and will result in the destruction of our democracy.

I am very pleased to see open discussion taking place about breaking up the big banks and other giant companies which are now “too big to fail.” The breakup of Standard Oil in 1911 took place because it was too big to regulate. This is a good precedent to study. The breakup of Standard Oil may have been good for competition and capitalism. Breaking up this colossal company was absolutely good for democracy.

Back then, roughly 100 years ago, Nicolas Trist who was secretary to President Andrew Jackson said, “Independently of its misdeeds, the mere power, the bare existence of such a power, is a thing irreconcilable with the nature and spirit of our institutions.” Organizations which are too big to fail are also too big for the government regulators to keep in line, and too big to allow in a healthy democracy.

Simon Johnson, the former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, has described this situation very accurately: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/in-banking-bigger-is-not-better/

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

American Football

I find the American sport of football to be barbaric. In fact I have a hard time putting it in a different moral category than professional boxing, cock fighting, or dog fighting. Morbidly obese men sitting in front of their televisions drinking large amount of beer to satisfy their chronic alcholism is not a sport; this is a disease.
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All these sports are geared to satisfy certain sick people’s desires to see blood and gore.
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These sports are really not much different than the pleasures of watching witches being burned at the stake, lynchings of black folks, or the Romans sitting around in arenas comfortably watching Christians be killed by wild animals.

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Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas

60,000 graves and a great deal of history is contained in Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas. It is also a Texas State Historical Site.
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Studying and knowing about our past is good for society. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This old cemetery in Central El Paso is also the sacred resting place for a lot of people’s dead relatives and loved-ones. No civilized person should desecrate a ceremony to bury one’s child or one’s parents. In America as in most other parts of the world, it is expected that one will demonstrate proper respect for the dead and their resting place.

The intellectual concept of historical study and the showing of appropriate respect for the dead are incompatible with the legitimization of “the paranormal.” Concepts like ghosts, telepathy, flying saucers, astrology, witches, and communication with the dead belong in a circus side show or a comic book convention; not in a sacred and historical place like this wonderful old cemetery. The Concordia group hosting Ghost Tours is inappropriate and constitutes a desecration of this sacred site.

The Concordia Cemetery group in El Paso continues to allow a group of paranormal freaks to use its name and logo. While this does raise the status of the paranormal weirdoes it is causing serious long term damage to the Concordia group. I have heard the excuse expressed that these paranormal people raise some money for the Concordia group. Would the Concordia group’s leadership also welcome fundraising activities from the drug cartels in Juarez, the Hells Angels, or a neo-nazi political group?

I would have expected the leadership of the Concordia group to immediately realize this complete incompatibility and never to have allowed their logo or name to be co-opted by a group of paranormals. I am disappointed and saddened.

I do not choose to be associated in any way with these kinds of people, so I am tendering my resignation from the Concordia Cemetery group with immediate effect.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Caused America’s Economy to Crater?

If you watched the PBS show Frontline last night you saw the excellent episode entitled “The Warning.”

Utilizing very careful and honest journalism this show conclusively proves that the policy of deregulation as espoused by President Ronald Reagan, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geitner, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin was responsible for the near destruction of the American economy. Note that some of these Wall Street deregulation-lunatics are still in positions of great power and influence even during the Obama administration.

Greenspan actually openly argued against governmental enforcement of laws and regulations prohibiting fraud. Absolute, total deregulation was the goal of these true-believer fanatics. The markets should be allowed to deal with all of this. Greenspan told the government regulators that they should do absolutely nothing about fraud. Honest!

This is a ground breaking piece of investigative journalism. To watch this entire show via the internet go to this link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/

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Good News Hidden Among All The Bad News

We are constantly exposed to vast amounts of negative energy nowadays. Just turn on the TV news. All of the media outlets, including the internet, have come to the conclusion that embellished sensationalism is much more profitable that honest reporting of the facts.

Every so often I am reminded that the voters and the consumers in America do many times make the correct decision. Eventually. They are afflicted by a sort of sick masochism where they are compelled to first try everything that these screwed up, dishonest con-artists from Fox news, General Motors, or Alan Greenspan tells them.

But then many times they do eventually end up making sound decisions.

Barack Obama gets elected president. It is shown conclusively that what is good for General Motors is most emphatically not always good for America. The business of America is not business.

The New York Times published an article today about brand loyalty among American car buyers that includes a nice chart made from data they got from the web site motorintelligence.com. What I see in this chart is really excellent news.

Instead of falling for all the lies and the smoke and mirrors put out by the marketing gurus of General Motors, the American consumer has realized that quality, reliability, and fuel economy are more important than tail fins, glitter, and glamour. Thus the sales by Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are all way up. Many of these vehicles are actually made in America too.

Toyotas are a good bit more expensive to purchase than Fords or Chevys. But the American consumer has finally figured out that taking into consideration resale value and dependability are vastly more important than the “sex appeal” that Detroit has been offering. A 60 month loan on a made-in-Detroit vehicle which gets meager fuel economy and has an appalling resale value is about as sexy as being morbidly obese and having diabetes.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Juarez, Mexico

Despite the presence of many federal police and military troops the death toll from the drugs violence keeps rising. There have been 2,000 people killed in Juarez so far during the year 2009.

The violence keeps accelerating. Beheadings have become routine news.

I have travelled all over Mexico, and I have been watching the country’s decline for more than 60 years. I have come to the conclusion that two main factors are responsible for this country going down hill so rapidly.

The country’s tax system allows a part of society to maintain fabulous wealth and power, while millions of people remain on the threshold of starvation. The large disparity in wealth between the super-rich and the vast majority of all other Mexicans is highly detrimental to societal cohesiveness.

Fraudulence and corruption among governmental workers, including the various law enforcement agencies, has become routine. A small bribe to the government man is considered completely normal in any transaction or interaction with the government.

I find the similarities between what I see in Mexico and what I see in the USA distressing. There appears to be more and more corruption among law enforcement agents here in America. The gap between the super rich and the middle classes has grown significantly during the last 40 years. The top 1% of wealthiest individuals in America now earn more than the entire bottom 95% of the people combined.

Neither bodes well for America’s future.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

CLL

Chaya Venkat is one of the true angels to the community of people worldwide who have chronic lymphocytic leukemia. She operates a web site called CLL Topics which is just full of vital information.

Today she published a great new article called Complete Blood Count: lymphocytes which helps explain the meaning of the various medical jargon and the results of blood tests.

It seems to me that most people who are diagnosed with CLL continue to have a great deal of “faith” in the medical community, whereas I no longer have the “faith.” My experience has led me to to see that the majority of doctors no longer think that the hippocratic oath is especially relevant. I see mostly greed when I look at the medical community here in the USA. There is a wonderful trend towards patients becoming better educated, informed, and somewhat more involved with the process of deciding whether to treat or not, and then even what therapies will be employed. Some doctors accept, maybe even welcome this increased patient education and involvement. Many physicians still resent the patient daring to have the arrogance to ask all these questions, and maybe even thinking that the patient has the right to decide upon their treatment options, or even taking the decision to not allow the doctors to use any of this toxic chemotherapy.

I certainly am not some sort of fundamentalist religious freak who believes that a sacred book or fairy tale demands that only God fix all medical problems. I have broken bones, and thanks to the fantastic medical service I received I not only survived, but I can still use my left ankle (motorcycle accident) and my left wrist (another later accident). Thank heavens for eye doctors and glasses! I do still have high blood pressure after many years of treatment, the common cold still is a problem, and rates of cancer and obesity are growing.

I have also seen examples of the medical establishment torturing people worse than what took place during the middle ages. Both my Grandmother and then later my Mother finished their incredibly productive lives laying in a hospital bed, with their arms and legs tied down to the bed frame, and all sorts of tubes hooked up to them. Both desperately begged to be taken out of the hospital…

In her latest article Chaya Venkat (as always) does an excellent job of explaining complex medical jargon. She also touches on an area that I consider important. Many of the so-called therapies that doctors use on CLL patients are in fact extremely toxic.

In CLL it is normal for one’s immune system to begin functioning well below optimal levels, which makes one far more susceptible to things like various respiratory infections, and even to life threatening pneumonia. Most of the commonly used therapies actually cause the immune system to function even worse than it was prior to being treated by the doctors. This is important to think about.
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It is my judgement that far too many patients and doctors ignore this dilemma due to their “faith” in modern medicine. It is important to keep in mind that in the very recent past even the most intelligent and reputable doctors who treated Kings and Queens had ample anecdotal evidence which convinced them that blood letting was an effective therapy for many medical problems.

When I hear someone use the word “faith” I think of pagan or mystical religious practices; not verifiable, peer reviewed science. Apparently there have not been verifiable medical studies performed which show any significant increase in life expectancy among patients who receive full-blown medical treatment for CLL.

I am well aware that this is a controversial position to take.

I wish that Chaya or Dr. Hamblin could demonstrate to us CLL patients that these treatments are not just expensive medical torture, but that they actually improve the function of the body's immune system, thus reducing the likelihood that one will come down with a life threatening respiratory infection. --Not just anecdotal evidence, but actual repeatable scientific evidence.

Even if these CLL “therapies” don’t make you live any longer, and in actual fact make your immune system function more poorly than before the treatment, if one could be shown that one’s lifespan is not shortened, and that the quality of one’s life is significantly improved, then one could analytically make the decision to allow these toxic substances to be used.

Do the leg cramps go away? Do you regain the stamina you had pre-CLL? Do the night sweats stop? How about the constant, uncontrollable day time sweating? Do all these swollen lymph nodes return to their normal size? Do the platelets return to normal functioning? Same with anemia. And how long will all this good news last?

Apparently in some cases the various toxic drugs are administered, and then within just 6 months or a year the CLL patient again is experiencing all of their prior symptoms. Plus they have the added burden that the drugs used by the doctors have actually made their immune system even less functional than it was before treatment began.

A great many smart and well educated CLL patients do eventually make the decision to allow these toxic treatments. This brings me to conclude that perhaps these desperate and frightened folks have fallen off their donkeys, are now blind, and in a blinding flash of light have received the “faith.”

Perhaps I am more of a scientific-method, skeptic type of guy. Or maybe I am just badly mistaken, and I am missing an important part of the picture. I would love to be shown that I am both grossly ignorant and completely wrong in my analysis.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saving Grace


The movie Saving Grace stars Brenda Belthyn and Craig Ferguson. He says that this is his most favorite he ever made, and I can see why.

Set in beautiful southwestern rural England, it is a wonderful movie. In places it is absolutely fall down funny. I don’t want to give away the plot, but as a hint, if you liked Cheech and Chong movies you will love this one. I promise.
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Louis C.K.

Louis Szekely is an American stand-up comedian, Emmy-winning writer, actor, producer and director. Plus he is really, really funny!
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The Green Revolution

October 16 was World Food Day, and this is world food weekend. The head of the UN food agency is quoted as saying "For the first time in history, more than one billion people are undernourished worldwide" and “one in every six persons in the world suffers from hunger every day." This means that roughly three times the population of America is now going hungry and is living under conditions of extreme poverty. This trend is not improving, rather it is getting worse with each passing year.

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It is time to admit that an ever increasing population, which each year consumes more energy and needs more food, is not sustainable. It can be compared to the bubble-burst phenomenon. The focus has been on continuing to increase the supply of food through monoculture agriculture, large inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides, genetically modified plants, and vast inputs of fossil fuels. These newly developed plants often have a higher yield, but generally require much more water than the traditionally grown varieties.

The Green Revolution meant well, of that I am certain. It also assured vast profits to those companies who make pesticides and genetically modified seeds. Unfortunately it encouraged world wide population growth to continue unchecked. We now can clearly see that it has turned out to be the wrong approach to dealing with the dreadful matter of hunger and famine.

When you combine an ever increasing supply of food with a drastically reduced infant mortality, unless you also include radically improved education, equality, and work-place opportunities for females (which reduce birth rates), you have created a situation which guarantees increasing poverty and starvation.

Each year the earth has more homo sapiens living on its surface who do not have enough food to eat, safe water to drink, flush toilets connected to sewage treatment plants, refrigerators to keep their food from rotting, or access to proper health care. To this one might add the problems that “advanced” societies suffer with: air and water which are polluted with a wide variety of industrial toxins, and food which contains hazardous pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Not to mention the increasing numbers of diseases which are no longer curable by antibiotics.

There also is the matter of cancer. Long term exposure to pesticides is correlated with higher cancer rates. Herbicide exposure is now linked to many types of lymphoma and leukemia, as well as breast, ovarian, and lung cancer

Rather than providing aid to poor countries in the form of tractors, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified seed stock we should be using our aid dollars to help build roads so that the farmer can get his produce to market. Schools, water wells, and irrigation projects are also generally wise ways to assist these poorer countries too.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Making Mistakes

I have a niece who just graduated from college, but for the most part has very limited life experience. She has never lived in a foreign country, she has not been married or raised children, has not served in the military or the peace corps, nor has she yet held down an actual career. She still lives at home with her parents. Even though her life experience is very limited, she is strongly convinced that she is right about everything. The "arrogance of youth" that most of us experience. Eventually with sufficient life experience most of us work our way beyond this destructive youthful arrogance.

Yesterday she posted a quote on Facebook today which says, "Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes." --Happy Birthday Mr Wilde.

For years I have said that anyone who is not making any mistakes isn’t doing anything. That is really a good bit different than saying that one should never regret one’s mistakes.

I do regret having hit that pedestrian with my parent’s car when I was joy riding with my friends, way back before I was even old enough to get my driver’s license.

I’ve never been an alcoholic, but for years I sure did drink too much. I think it would be entirely appropriate for any alcoholic who is dying of cirrhosis of the liver to justifiably have regrets. I certainly do regret that I got addicted and smoked cigarettes for so many years.

Part of growing up is gaining the understanding that it is entirely appropriate for you to regret certain things you have said or done. Especially when your actions resulted in other people getting hurt. These regrets help you not make the same mistakes time after time. This is called wisdom.

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Alan Greenspan

"If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil — so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”

Too bad you didn’t have these sorts of good ideas back when you had power to get them implemented.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joan Baez


Last night PBS aired a wonderful one hour special on Joan Baez in the show American Masters. Joan Baez is best known as being a social activist and a folk singer who has an excellent command of the acoustic guitar. She had tremendous impact on the world, especially in the 1960s and 1970s.

I adore the Beatles, and several times I have gone on the Magical Mystery Tour religious pilgrimage to Liverpool, England. They had a great impact on the whole world and on me personally. I stood less than 20 feet from Paul McCartney and Linda as they played with Wings in a small club near Frankfurt, Germany in the early 1970s, and I own several pieces of original Beatles memorabilia.

But Joan Baez honestly had more of an impact on me than the fab-four. She has published many albums, but the one which had the most impact on me was called Baptism. Especially the songs entitled In Guernica and No Man Is An Island.

Her mother was born in Edinburg, Scotland and her father was born in Puebla, Mexico. Her father embodied the best of the Mexican culture. Like Cesar Milan he gained an excellent command of the English language. It is such a burden that we place on immigrants when we allow them to continue speaking their native language and permit them to refuse to completely integrate. Allowing them to not get highly proficient in the dominant language guarantees that they will permanently remain members of the lowest social class. This is true in America just as much as in Germany or France.

Joan Baez marched and sang with Martin Luther King and she went to jail in opposition to the draft during the Vietnam War. She had a wonderful love affair with Bob Dylan. Now in 2009 she is an old lady, but she is still singing, very active, and still lives by the same pacifist ideology. She is among a very small and elite group of musicians who have continued to perform for 50 years.

LINK: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/joan-baez/video-outtakes-from-the-film/1198/





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No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,

No man stands alone,

Each man's joy is joy to me,

Each man's grief is my own.

We need one another,

So I will defend,

Each man as my brother,

Each man as my friend.


I saw the people gather,

I heard the music start,

The song that they were singing,

Is ringing in my heart.


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No man is an island,

Way out in the blue,

We all look to the one above,

For our strength to renew.

When I help my brother,

Then I know that I plant the seed of friendship,

That will never die.






In Guernica

In Guernica the dead children were laid out in order on the sidewalk

In their white starched dresses

In their pitiful white dresses

On their foreheads and breasts the little round holes where death came in as thunder

while they were playing their important summer games


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Do not weep for them, Madre

They are gone forever, the little ones

Straight to heaven to the saints

And God will fill the bullet holes with candy

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Sail Beyond The Sunset


I am reading Robert Heinlein’s last book called To Sail Beyond The Sunset. Heinlein died in 1988 at age 80 of heart failure, and this book has a copyright date of 1987.

One quick little quote. The daughter speaking to her Dad:

“What code should I follow, Father?”
“You have to pick your own.”
“The Ten Commandments?”
“You know better than that. The Ten Commandments are for lame brains. The first five are solely for the benefit of the priests and the powers that be; the second five are half truths, neither complete nor adequate.”

This made me stop and think. I grew up as an Episcopalian and was forced to go to church every Sunday. Even though I have travelled over much of the holy land, I no longer believe in the Christian myths and fairy tales.

Getting pregnant without ever having had sex with a man, talking serpents, spontaneously combusting bushes, a corpse which has had a couple of days to decompose and putrefy suddenly coming back to life, walking on water, magically turning water into wine, etc. Maybe the carpenter from Nazareth actually was a historical figure who genuinely existed and had good ideas, but I think the odds are probably not. My best guess is that it is just a story.

I looked up the Ten Commandments only to find that there is far from universal agreement regarding what they actually say. In fact many religious sects which use the Bible think there were far more than ten of these commandments. --LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments

After studying them a bit I must say that I have to agree with Heinlein. The first 5 are indeed only for the benefit of the priests and the power structure, and the second five commandments are indeed half truths, being neither complete or adequate.
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In the same context he asks the question, "Would you steal food to feed your starving baby?"

To quote the Bible, John 8, verse 32, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dan Brown


I have been a big fan of the American author Dan Brown for several years. His book The Da Vinci Code invited a lot of interesting and thought provoking discussion. I enjoyed it thoroughly.


His latest book called The Lost Symbol goes into what sometimes is called the noetic sciences. Most others say this is simply pseudoscience like bending spoons with one’s thought patterns, paranormal phenomena, ESP, and being able to foretell the future.

I have read all of his books, and I was a big fan. But I have put away his new book without finishing it. Dan Brown received a little criticism for a number of minor historical inaccuracies in The Da Vinci Code, but legitimizing this total crap that the paranormal phreaks are into is further than I am willing to travel with him.
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Free Trade

The popular capitalist notion of free trade has preached that eliminating trade barriers like import duties would mean that everyone profits. Just like with the free market. Very much a win-win proposition.

A joint report just issued by the World Trade Organization and the International Labor Organization concludes that freer trade has not led to better work conditions in the developing world. This report has found that although free trade has resulted in an increase in employment in the poorer countries, most of the jobs created are at extremely low wages, with no social security, little job security, and with minimal workplace health and safety protections in place.

Pascal Lamy, the head of the WTO, said free trade requires proper domestic policies in these developing countries if good jobs are to be created.

By shifting all these millions of good manufacturing jobs away from America we have done several things. We have insured that the super-wealthy in the USA and China get even richer. This outsourcing and these layoffs have caused the middle and working classes in America to suffer and decline noticeably. America is now less the land of opportunity than it was 40 years ago.

The best solution to this appalling situation is for America to institute import duties insuring a level playing field. The price of goods imported from abroad would be brought up by the same amount as if the producing companies had obeyed reasonable child labor laws, minimum wage laws, paid social security, worked under sensible workplace health and safety regulations, and had to obey the same environmental pollution regulations as American and European companies. If the foreign companies could prove that they do all of the above, then the import duties would be eliminated.

The revenue generated by these “level playing field” import duties can be used to pay for socially worthwhile projects like raising old age pensions paid out by social security, implementing 100% Universal Health Care in America, and encouraging energy conservation.

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Universal Health Care Is Not Possible

There are several newspaper reports this morning from around the country saying that top lawmakers in Congress have now decided that universal health care is just not possible in the land of the free and the brave. Even with Olympia Snow's support they are just talking about expanding health care coverage. There will still be millions of people in America who are excluded from the health care system. For some reason it is possible to provide health care to everyone in less wealthy countries like England, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, but not in the USA.

Why not in America? Because of the rampant greed and corruption in Washington, D.C.

Some of the important and powerful Senators in Washington, D.C. have received many millions of dollars of bribes to oppose universal health care. This corruption and bribery is a bit more evident in the Republican political party and the right wing, but there are plenty of Democrats who also owe their souls to the health insurance industry.

It is clearly a case of corruption and bribery. These dishonest bastards in Washington call it “campaign contributions.” Different words, but the essence is the same. They owe their careers to all the money they have accepted from the health care industry, so they are choosing their own self-interest over what the American people need, and what is good for the country.

In a way this is a test case. If after all this work and grief the legislators in Washington, D.C. are forced to give in to corruption, and to super wealthy and the big corporations, it does not bode well for the future of democracy in America.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt got Social Security passed without one Republican vote. The Republicans did not even attempt to be bipartisan or to do what the American voters wanted. They supported the super wealthy Capitalists instead, and they were proud of it.

Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned America about the dangers of the wealthy corporations coming together with a portion of the federal government. He called the ensuing powerful interests the Military Industrial Complex.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was almost not able to get Medicare for old folks passed. He had to threaten to bring the entire federal government to a halt using his presidential veto power. To do this he had to kiss off any future political ambitions. Bless LBJ’s heart, he had the strength of character to stand up and wait out the corrupt super-wealthy, and do what was right for the people and the country.

President Barack H. Obama now has his great opportunity, his first great test. Obama’s place in history is already assured. The first black President of the United States of America, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. At this juncture he has a genuine choice. He can either choose to be weak, continue jabbering on about crossing the aisle and bi-partisanship, bend over and give in to the big money interests; or he can stand up straight and tall, be strong, and do what is right for the American people.

Barack Obama really can win this battle if he is willing to give it everything he has.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

I’ve got a couple of words for people who are unhappy that President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Racist is the first one obviously. Sour-grapes is second. What creeps and jerks.
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The American Economy


Anyone who has taken freshman economics in college should be able to deduce from this graph that the American economy is in serious trouble. I copied this graph from Professor Paul Krugman’s blog: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/beware-the-dollar-hawks/

All the deregulation and the greed-games which have been played starting with President Ronald Reagan have caused serious long term damage to the American economy.

China and India are now rising. The massive theft and fraud on Wall Street is still being allowed by the federal government; even after the “great recession.” The economy may actually be more dangerous and unstable now than it was before the real estate bubble burst.

Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, Spain, and Italy all were massively powerful and successful economies at one time. But like with General Motors in Detroit, if enough bad decisions are made over a sufficiently long period of time, it really is quite possible to damage a company or a country’s economy so badly that it finally achieves a status which is beyond repair.

It is beginning to look like the greed and massive corruption in Washington, D.C. seems to have damaged the U.S.A. beyond the point of no return.

I guess this is just the history of mankind. Rise and Fall. It seems so sad when it is your own country that is falling, but I guess it is just part of the scheme of things. The religious folks would say that this is just God or Allah’s will. Maybe, but I don’t think that massive theft, misrepresentation, and greed fit well into the scheme of most successful religions.
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The Bill Moyers Journal

Bill Moyers is the most talented and respected journalist in America. His TV show on PBS called The Bill Moyers Journal is almost always interesting and informative. The show last night (9 October 2009) was momentous.

He interviewed two very amazing people. The former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson, pHd, who is now a professor at MIT; and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) who is a Democratic Member of Congress from Ohio's Ninth Congressional District and is currently the longest-serving woman in the House of Representative were his guests.

The discussion revolved around the state of the “reforms” which have been made to the U.S. Economy since the Obama administration came into office. The answers were chilling.

It seems that virtually nothing has been done to prevent another “great recession” from taking place. There has been some talk, but no genuine reforms. Since there are now fewer big banks remaining on Wall Street, they are vastly bigger than before. Hence they are now even more likely to be defined as too big to fail.

This is a link to the full transcript of the show: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10092009/transcript4.html
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Karl Marx

In college I read Das Kapital by Karl Marx. Since then I’ve visited where he was born in Trier, Germany and Humboldt University in Berlin where he and Einstein both studied. One time when I was in London I took the tube up north near Hamstead Heath to Highgate Cemetery to see Marx’s very palatial and non-proletarian grave.

Marxism and communism have some very serious problems inherent in them, and neither will work in real life. But as Pope John Paul II said, “Capitalism, undisciplined by morality, will eventually self destruct.”

The obscene jerks who use corporate aircraft like they were their own personal airplanes, and draw down multimillion dollar bonuses are doing more to destroy capitalism than Karl Marx ever dreamed of.

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Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas

The Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas is where many famous people from the 1800s are buried, including John Wesley Hardin.

I am a member of the Concordia Heritage Association, a group that does important things to protect and explain this wonderful old west history that is still preserved in the high desert of El Paso.

Recently some bizarre folks who seem to be obsessed with “paranormal” things like ghosts have gotten involved. Instead of focusing on legitimate history, there seems to be an increasing focus on this Roswell UFO type crap. These people are the same type of phreaks who deny evolution and vociferously claim that the world was created in about a week.

It is such a shame to see legitimate history like the Concordia Cemetery or the old historical houses in El Paso, Texas being taken over by these paranormal weirdoes.

LINK: http://www.concordiacemetery.org/

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Windows 7

I have not yet tried the new Microsoft operating system called Windows 7. But I have some observations on their marketing strategy anyway.

My perspective comes from a guy who began doing elementary computer programming and using home personal computers in the pre-DOS days almost 40 years ago. Actually DOS was a very nice operating system (OS) which was fast and stable. Microsoft bought DOS from another company, and then started marketing it as their own. They did not write it, but they are good salesmen. Unfortunately DOS wasn’t geared towards using a mouse, or colors and graphical applications, and simple-minded individuals who couldn't type or were lazy had problems using it, so improvements and advancements were required to dumb down computers and make them more readily available to everyone.

After DOS the guys at Microsoft began selling Windows 3.1 then Windows 95, Windows 98, and Vista. They had lots of minor improvements and variations in between like the Millennium Edition, Windows 2000, the Home Edition, etc. I’ve used most of them. Many times the new OS is not 100% backwardly compatible, so one finds that some of your software has to be re-purchased too.

In every single case there were lots of Windows users who complained vigorously that the Microsoft operating system was unstable, it crashed frequently, and took far too long to load. Almost 30 years after I bought my first home computer I still feel this way. They have made some genuine improvements, but it still takes forever to load and is still very vulnerable to hackers and other malevolent jerks and getting hung up.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Macintosh user, although I do have many egotistical friends who go on-and-on-and-on about the vast superiority of their Macs. I never bought into the idea. It has always seemed to me that Apple computers, cell phones, and mp3 players were very pretty, glitzy, and had some very nice features, but that they were more than a little over priced.

If you look at Microsoft’s marketing strategy for their new OS which they are calling Windows 7, it seems to be basically the very same one they have always used. In so many words they seem to be saying to the consumer, “Yes, we agree that the windows operating system you have been forced to use in the past is total crap, but this newest version really is nirvana, and we have now solved all of those problems.” Yes, sure, I believe every word you are saying.

After having gone through this many times, and being disappointed each time, I think one can readily understand my skepticism.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Universal Health Care

According to the press and the TV news the latest incarnation of “Health Care Reform” would still leave at least 6% of Americans without health care. Other reports show a higher number.

The USA has about 307 million people right now, and 18 - 25 million mostly poor folks would still be unable to get proper health care under the legislation that the Senate is proposing. Thousands of people would still die each year because they did not have access to medical care. This is simply not acceptable. Not at all. President Obama needs to veto any health care reform legislation under which millions of Americans would still be outside the health care system.

Other than trying our patience, wasting the voters time and our money, just exactly what the hell are these bozos in Washington, D.C. doing?

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Buying a Toyota Prius

This is an open letter to Mr. Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation.
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I have owned many new cars over the years, including various Toyotas. A Tercel, a white van, two different Celicas, a Corolla, a Prius, and an Avensis (made in the UK). I respect the company, and I think they make great products.
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One time I was flown in and given a personalized tour of one of the Toyota production facilities, and back before I retired we bought lots of Toyota forklift trucks. I guess you could say that I’m maybe a bit of a Toyota groupie.

When I bought my first Prius roughly 4 years ago, I was living in Europe. Every night I would see advertisements on TV for the Toyota Prius. When I went in the local Toyota dealership they had a beautiful one sitting in the showroom. But they didn’t actually sell them. They advertised the hell out of them, but when you went in to actually buy one they told you that you would have to wait, wait, wait. Months or more.

Eventually I got furious with the Dutch Toyota dealer and accused them of using bait and switch tactics. They got to see a really classic example of an arrogant, loud mouth Texan doing the Ugly American routine. It is too bad we don’t have a video of me telling them what I thought of them in a loud and abrasive voice. I’m sure I could be famous on U-Tube for at least 5 minutes.

Toyota in Holland were advertising the Prius on TV every night, but when you went in to their showroom I felt that they were trying to switch you to buying a more profitable model. I finally did buy a Prius from them, and I drove it all over Europe. Truly great car!

Yesterday I went to the two Toyota dealerships in El Paso, Texas USA. I had my check book with me, and I was fully ready to pay cash for a new White 2010 Prius II.

One Toyota dealer in El Paso, Texas was actually rather rude to me. They had only one Prius in stock, and a car lot filled with more profitable models. I ended up walking away mumbling to myself, shaking my head, and thinking, “If I have to walk, I will never, ever buy a car from these jerks!” At the other El Paso, Texas Toyota dealer (where I bought my current Corolla) everyone was professional and was very nice to me, but they were in basically the same situation as far as inventory of Prius cars. So we left it by agreeing that in a few months if their inventory situation improved they would probably maybe call me.

Every time I log onto the internet still one of the first things I see is a prominent ad for the Toyota Prius, but I am in the same situation as before. It is now four years later, and I'm living in America instead of Europe. But they still have the exact same problem. It is hard to deduce anything other than that advertising the Prius is good for their corporate image, but that selling too many of them is bad for their bottom line. As a loyal Toyota customer it sure seems like the perpetual Prius shortage is deliberate.
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As good as the Toyota products are, this type of thing may have something to do with why they are currently losing so much money. This is not an example of proper corporate responsibility. It is so damn hard to earn the trust and respect of your customers, and it is so easy to lose it. Earning their trust back a second time after the customer feels that they have been treated badly is even harder.
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This feels like some kind of unpleasant déjàvu.
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It is now October 29, 2009. I have managed to buy a 3d generation Prius II in the color of my choice. I had to contact many Toyota dealers, and finally Street Toyota in Amarillo, Texas was able to get the car I wanted at a reasonable price. They did exactly what they said they would do and I am happy with the service the dealer provided. But I had to fly up there on Southwest Airlines, and then drive for eight hours back to my home.
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The new 2010 Prius is a wonderful car, and in fact it really does get 50 mpg fuel economy under actual driving conditions. My opinion about the company has not changed however. I still am of the opinion that this vehicle is not profitable for Toyota. Being able to advertise it is real good for their corporate image; so they continue to maintain a situation where the vehicle perpetually stays in short supply.

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Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite Moon Impact




Tomorrow night late October 8, which is actually early in the morning on October 9, a satellite travelling at high speed will impact the moon near to the lunar south pole. The plume of dust will be studied to try and determine if water is present under the surface. The impact will not be visible from Asia or Europe, but it will be from the Americas.

A live NASA TV Broadcast is planned for the LCROSS impacts starting at 4:15 a.m. MDT, Oct. 9, on NASA TV and on www.nasa.gov/ntv



The actual impact will take place at 5:31 a.m. Mountain time or 11:31:30 universal time coordinated, or as us old geezers call it, either Zulu or Greenwich Mean Time. The plume will gradually rise for about 10 minutes.

The experts say that the plume will not be visible even with really good binoculars, and that one will need a 10 inch to 12 inch telescope to view it. My 8 inch Dobsonian has given me some really spectacular views of the moon and the planets, but I hate to lug it outside for nothing if it really is too small.

I guess even if I don’t see the plume of dust, just getting to see the moon up close and personal again will be worth it. I’ll go ahead and set the alarm, but time will tell if I watch it on the internet or from my own backyard. Maybe I’ll use my wifi and do both.

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October 9: Although it hit right on where it was supposed to, apparently there was no ejecta plume.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Dali Lama

I am neither a Buddhist or a Catholic, but I really admire Pope Benedict and the Dali Lama. Both men are intellectual titans.

China has a horrifying track record on human rights. No doubt the Chinese have done and will continue to do really terrible things in Tibet.

The Dali Lama says that he is not calling for the independence of Tibet from China, rather that he merely wants genuine autonomy for Tibetans. This is either a dishonest statement, or an idea that clearly won’t work.

It is time for the Tibetans to accept that they have become just another province of China, fit in and give up their own culture, or openly rebel and try to achieve independence. This murky middle ground won’t work anymore.
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Dances With Wolves


I can remember 19 years ago consciously making the decision to not go watch this movie. Like a lot of things in life I sometimes am a bit of a slow learner.

Dances With Wolves starring Kevin Costner won seven academy awards including best picture of 1990. I just watched the DVD, and I can sure see why. This is one really great movie.

LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dances_with_Wolves

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Letterman

I see in the news today that Letterman maintains a secret bedroom above the Ed Sullivan studio where he only takes young female staffers. I also see that the somewhat odd radio jock Don Imus has called Letterman a philanderer and “an angry, mean-spirited jerk."

Let me paint a little story. An extremely powerful and wealthy CEO hires a young attractive female “intern” who could easily be his daughter or even his granddaughter. Her job is clearly temporary. But if she pleases him, he has the ability to offer her a great full time job and greatly enhance her future career prospects.

He asks her to go to a movie. She turns him down by saying, “I see the way that you look at me. You are old enough to be my grandfather. You seem a little weird and creepy to me.” She does not get offered a full time job at the end of her internship. Or she does agree to date him, and she ends up getting a full-time, high paying job. Are these examples of sexual harassment? Of course they are.

Talk about abuse of power and using his position in the workplace to gain access to sexual favors from his female employees. If Letterman has multiple sexual affairs and is unfaithful with women who do not work -FOR- him, then that is his business. But when a supervisor has sex with his female employees it is almost always an indicator of sexual harassment.

This sort of shameful behavior is normally associated with powerful men, only occasionally with powerful women. In our Garland family bible we see documentation that during the slavery era some of the Garland white males were intentionally "bred" to some of the black slave women. The upper classes used to be able to get away with shameful behavior like this back during serfdom too.

It distresses me that I am not reading more comments criticizing the rich and powerful male supervisors who are still doing these sorts of things to women in the workplace. I thought we put an end to this sort of stuff 20 or 30 years ago.
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Craig Ferguson




Craig Ferguson’s second book, called American On Purpose, is an autobiography.

At age 60 I’ve read many books. Maybe hundreds, maybe thousands. I don’t really remember. At one time I even had the conceit to incorrectly think of myself as well educated and well read. I know better now.

But one thing is certain, the book American On Purpose is well inside the list of top ten books I have ever read!

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Climate Change Denial

Jeremy Clarkson is not only rude and overbearing, he remains a part of the ignorant minority who denies that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is causing global warming.

This is the same creepy, cigarette puffing, fat old geezer who publicly humiliates his employee Richard Hammond by referring to him by the offensive name “Hamster.” - Put down humor at its sickest.

These people think that it is funny to watch you get badly hurt, or to see someone punch you in the nose. I view it as sick and perverted. In fact, I think the word disgusting fits Mr. Clarkson just fine. He and Rush Limbaugh belong together.
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LINK: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8286794.stm

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Friday, October 02, 2009

CLL

All CLL patients should become familiar with Dr. Terry Hamblin in the UK. This is a link to his latest blog entry:



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Sexual Harassment

Many of us have been unfaithful, either romantically or sexually. Sometimes we regret it, sometimes not.

When you work as a supervisor, or worse yet as a rich and powerful CEO, having a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a lady who works for you and whose future career may depend upon your approval is called sexual harassment. It is against the law and rightfully so.

David Letterman isn’t just a deceitful, power-mad control freak. He is repulsive. It is time for this old geezer to leave television.

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Prussia

I have been reading about Prussia.---- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussia

Supposedly one of the main reasons for the great power and success of it was the culture of “Prussian Virtues.” They are listed as perfect organization, discipline, sacrifice, rule of law, obedience to authority, reliability, tolerance, honesty, punctuality, frugality, modesty, and diligence.

This is a very good list of virtues with one major exception: Obedience to Authority. Blindly following authority figures who were racists and madmen is what completely broke this large and powerful empire. Unfortunately it now seems that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction in many of the advanced western cultures of the twenty first century.

Extreme individualism has morphed into egotism and selfishness. Many people with quite limited experience in life and/or poor educations think that their opinions on complex subjects are just as valid as those people with far greater experience and education.

Disrespect for the rule of law is rampant. You see this on the highway in how many people exceed the legal speed limit, and you see it in all the people who smoke marijuana or drink underage. Tolerance has been replaced by in-your-face rudeness and discourtesy. Wearing offensive symbols like the burqa or a swastika to intentionally be aggressive is viewed as almost normal.

Refusing to use proper punctuation, capitalization, or paragraphs is clearly an insult to the reader. It is a way of saying that the writer is way too important to bow down to these literary conventions. So it makes the job of the reader much more difficult? I view this refusal to follow the rules of capitalization as just plain ill-mannered and lazy.

Frugality is a joke in the era of debt run amok. This is unquestionably true among individuals but equally true for companies and even cities, states, and entire countries. If you are buying a car which gets poor fuel economy on a 72 month loan you need to seek counseling; and I don’t mean credit counseling. Student debt is completely out of control. Until the bubble burst you could get a home mortgage with no down payment required and the payments would only be the interest on the loan - nothing at all towards principal. And you didn’t even have to prove that you had a job or the financial wherewithal to repay this home loan.

Rather than gradually becoming more tolerant and open-minded than they were in the 1960s, many societies have now become fanatical, bigoted, and prejudiced. Just watch Fox news if you need some proof. With everyone carrying a cell phone which allows them to call and say they will be late, punctuality has declined. Some people no longer even wear wrist watches. Modesty has certainly become a joke in the era of Botox and plastic surgery.

Life is still good for us old geezers in our 60’s, but the future doesn’t look so promising for the generations that are following us.
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