Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homosexual Rutgers Student Commits Suicide

It really is so terrible. Having someone secretly tape you and your partner having sex, and then having them broadcast it over the internet without your knowledge or permission. Inexcusable really.

What makes this especially hard to deal with is that the kid who killed himself was a gay man still in the closet. I guess that he killed himself because he was so ashamed about being outed as a homo.

I have known so many people over the years who try to pretend that they are something they are not. Rich or well educated or well traveled, when it fact it is mostly a bunch of hooey. This lying and deception ends up doing very bad things to them. I guess the guilt of pretending that you are normal when in fact you are gay must be among the worst.

What a pity that this kid had to die over it. Its all so silly really. So he was sexually attracted to other boys? Not really that big of a deal anymore.

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Definition of Recession

When it comes to racism or sexual harassment, regardless of how many letters or degrees you have following your name, if you choose to define the concept too narrowly you are simply wrong. This is the situation economists find themselves in regarding the word “recession.” Collectively they have chosen a definition which is far too narrow.

A “recession” is an economic downturn. Typically the stock market declines somewhat. Sales revenue and profits by businesses declines, so large numbers of workers are laid off. Some of the people who are newly out of work can no longer make the mortgage payments on their house, so foreclosures increase. This drives down the price of real estate. Marriages fall apart. Many of the unemployed people cannot afford to pay for private health insurance, so they lose access to the health care system. People feel worried and pessimistic.

The opposite of a recession is a “boom.” Stock prices are rising and so are home values. Unemployment is low, and people feel prosperous and optimistic.

An “economic depression” is a really extremely horrible recession.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Diana Gabaldon


I just bested a lifetime record for patience and taking my time to slowly enjoy a wonderful pleasure. In 2005 I had been living in Europe for close to 20 years. I bought the Diana Gabaldon book “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” published in the English language from the wonderful and enormous German bookstore in downtown Aachen, Germany. Maybe 200 – 300 yards from Charlemagne's cathedral which he built in the year 800 a.d.

Shortly thereafter I moved back to America. As I gradually plugged my way through this wonderful book I read many other books. Sometimes it is a real treat treat to just drag it out. But I've never lasted anywhere near this long. As long as you have not actually finished a book, in your mind it is an ongoing story. So Jaime and Claire have been a part of my life for many years now.

Today I finished this wonderful book. I guess it must be the sixth in the Outlander series. I have the next book on hand just waiting, so tomorrow I'll start it. With this leukemia advancing much more rapidly now, I don't plan to drag this next book out. I'll just enjoy the pleasure of immersing myself in their lives.

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President Obama Lost In The Washington Mentality

AP - Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.
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Mr. President, it is true that the policies of the Blue Dog Democrats and their Republican buddies and fellow travelers are indeed somewhat worse than yours. But you are so weak, so afraid to get your hands dirty, and as much as I hate to say it outright dishonest, that you are the one who who has squandered the enthusiasm of the Democrats.

You had your surrogates call the core liberal-progressive wing of the Democratic party “retards.” Are you really this stupid and socially inept Mr. Obama? Did you think that these intelligent and well educated liberals would not be angry at this?

Your health care law is weak and poor at best. You never did understand how important single payer was or even the far weaker vigorous government option. Your health cost containment program is not even remotely close to universal health care. If things go really well, there will still be double digit millions of Americans who are excluded from the health care system.

You are turning out to be more of an anti-environment president than even Bush Jr. You endorsed off shore oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas just before the BP fiasco. You have dedicated more money to nuclear energy than the Republicans you followed. You haven't closed down Guantanamo, and you don't seem to care. Your idea of ending the Iraq war involves leaving 50,000 troops there and probably an equal number of civilian contractors. Everyone except you can see that the Afghanistan war is a truly hopeless mess which we certainly will not win. Your spending on all this military adventurism may well bankrupt the country, but you don't seem to care.

Your economic advisors are mostly conservatives who fit right in at Republican cocktail parties. You lied and said that you wanted to end DADT, now when push comes to shove you are not a significant part of the fight. You have done very little to help minorities with their fight against racism.

You really have turned out to be quite a disappointment and almost an actual embarrassment Barack. We are not the ones who are squandering anything. You and your own personal weakness are at fault. Some of us liberal Democrats will bother to vote, even though your policies and your attitude disgust us; we will be doing so despite you and all the areas where you have turned your back on us and lied to us.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Going Slow

With lot of people the type of leukemia that I have is very slow growing. In many cases it is kind of like prostate cancer...so slow growing that the patient will die of something age first. I have had this chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) for years. I was formally diagnosed eight years ago, and I'm sure that I had the disease for at least a year or two before that. I can remember very distinctly experiencing the symptoms – night sweats, etc.

It was little more than an annoyance for years. But about six months ago something changed. Everything has been going downhill quite rapidly since then. And it seems like this decline is continuing to get worse faster and faster.

I'm generally inclined towards letting nature take her course. Some days I really enjoy life. I'm reading a couple of fantastic books right now, “Chuck” on NBC was great tonight, and my best friend and I had a wonderful walk this morning. Even though he is getting a bit old himself, he is still a good athlete. I ride the geezer scooter and most of the time he walks along, sniffing and peeing. Occasionally he rides in my lap.

The nights have gotten very rather difficult though. Sleep is a real luxury that I don't get to enjoy much any more. I can barely walk, I am out of breath almost all the time, my blood platelets have declined to where the dentist won't work on me, I have no sense of smell at all, my digestion sucks, and I am more than partially deaf. There is no point in listing all the other things going wrong, but there are plenty more.

My brain seems to still be working OK, but my body is going downhill really fast now.

I know that it is not yet appropriate to put my .44 magnum to my head and pull the trigger. But in the middle of the night I sure have begun thinking about it – a lot. Every night. When terminal patients are given the tools to suicide, most choose to die naturally. Only a very small percentage do accelerate the process.

But there comes a point where the suffering is so bad, the disease really is incurable, some would think it entirely wise to go ahead and end the needless suffering. I guess we each have to find our own point on this.

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The Worst Teachers Must Go!

President Obama has called for a longer school year and has said that the worst teachers must go. This is great sounding rhetoric, but in real life actually judging the performance and teaching skill of a person is not at all easy. It sure isn't a science which one can quantify.

For example the teachers whose students get low test results may in fact be the very most effective person at reaching out to the worst of the bad asses, so she/he is consistently assigned the kids who need the most help. Or perhaps the teacher is just plain lazy and incompetent. It is often not easy to determine.

I don't remember many woefully incompetent teachers until I got to college, but I was young and lacked experience. I also was mostly interested in sex, drinking, and fast cars; not whether the teacher was doing a good job of educating me. It was just assumed that they were all competent.

I got my B.A. Degree, spent three years in the Army, and then returned to further my education. By now I was a little older, had seen a bit of the world, and actually learning something was important to me.

I found that at least one third of the teachers/instructors/professors were quite lazy and really didn't put much effort into teaching. Maybe one third were absolutely outstanding. And about a third were immigrants with very significant language difficulties. Perhaps they held a pHd degree, but they spoke in such heavily accented English that they were largely unintelligible. But I suppose they were cheap hires for the university.

I had sufficient life experience at this point where I could accurately judge whether these people were skillful at teaching. I was paying them, considered them to be my employees, and expected competence and hard work. I can remember that some of these bozos didn't particularly appreciate my attitude, so if they would not do their jobs properly I just went above them and complained to their boss.

I could weed out the bad teachers, but the university administrative staff had a far less accurate view of their skill level or dedication.

At the level of primary school or high school I can't imagine how one can accurately judge the competence of teachers. I was a manager and a supervisor in business for many years. There really are so many people whose primary skill is kissing the the ass of the boss and thus erroneously convincing him that they are doing a great job. I admit that I was fooled many times by lots of different people.

We all want the youth of America to receive good educations, but simply judging an experienced teacher on the standardized test results of her/his students doesn't seem like an effective method.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chinese Impose 105% Import Duties on American Products

The Chinese have imposed import duties of 105% on American chickens. I think the factory farming of chickens in America is horrible, but I also think this can be used to encourage our own government to develop a little backbone.

China has artificially manipulated its currency such that the cost of imports into America is unrealistically low. Of course this has helped eliminate many thousands of good American manufacturing jobs. This decision isn't difficult or extreme: America needs to impose import duties of 35% to 45% on everything imported from China. Not as a threat or a short term tactical move. But as long term policy. Good manufacturing jobs will gradually start reappearing here in America if we do.

Of course the Chinese will scream like crazy. Well they are. Crazy like foxes. It is time to stop being Mr. Nice Guy. Our federal government is here to defend the American people from foreign aggression and exploitation. Oh, and along the way, screw the WTO. Just for a few years.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rough Night

Last night was difficult; maybe the worst night so far.

In December of 2002 I had to go see the lung specialists at the hospital because of a bad infection in my lung. I had been sick for months, and by this time I was really sick. I was less than a month away from my 54th birthday at the time. With heavy doses of antibiotics they were eventually able to cure the lung infection, but sort of accidentally the various blood tests they did also happened to show that I had a chronic disease. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).

CLL is a form of malignant cancer. In simple terms what happens is that the white blood cells, which normally fight off disease and invaders, become cancerous. This means that they forget when to die; they keep on living, even though they are defective and are no longer able to fight off infections (immunodeficiency). The lymph nodes swell up, and so do the spleen and the liver.

It is often a slow progressing disease, and in my case it has been. It now has been almost eight years since I was first diagnosed with CLL. The defective white blood cells have continued their cancerous growth so much so that they have now started seriously crowding out the platelets, which help the blood clot or form scabs. The same with the red blood cells and their hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around to the various tissues in the body. At the moment this is the most serious problem.

The weakened immune system has made tooth decay much more of a challenge, and even with better than ever personal hygiene jock itch is now chronic.

The lack of red blood cells and hemoglobin mean that if I walk really really slowly I can go maybe 20 or 30 feet before I have to stop and rest. It is a constant battle to make sure that I don't do any exercise which will so reduce the amount of oxygen getting to other important organs (like the heart) that I develop major problems. To get out and walk the doggie I have bought one of those old geezer handicapped scooters. It is wonderful. I nod off a lot during the day, so driving a car safely is becoming challenging. I still do it, but I'm now driving much more slowly; like an old old man.

The lymph nodes have now swollen up quite large, especially under my arm pits, on my neck, and to a lesser degree in the groin area. The gigantic ones under my arms now are often really quite painful. They are a major impediment to sleep. I have grown a beard and have let my hair grow kind of long hoping to hide or at least camouflage all these bumps. A fellow CLL patient who is really smart and well informed says that these are lymphomas, but I couldn't guarantee this is the right word to use.

The CLL progressed slowly for many years, but now these various symptoms and problems have all begun getting worse rather fast. The process seems to be accelerating.

I am almost 62 now; it was roughly eight years ago when I was first diagnosed with leukemia. I feel like I am nearing the end stage of this fight with CLL. Lets rephrase that more openly and honestly. I'm pretty sure that I will die sometime in the near future because of this malignant cancer. Maybe an infection and pneumonia during the next year or so due to the immunodeficiency, or maybe tonight or next week from a heart attack.

Around midnight I began sleeping fitfully. This has become quite common. But tonight it was the worst so far. The low levels of hemoglobin mean that breathing slowly and deeply has become critical. What happened from midnight to about 3:00 a.m. is that every time I would start to fall back to sleep, my body would just stop breathing first. So I felt like I was suffocating as I fell into sleep. Only conscious waking thought would keep the lungs doing their job breathing in and out.

During this time I gave a lot of thought to how one dies peacefully and fearlessly. Suffocation is not a good way to die. I thought back over the various people I have known who got lucky and died quickly.

I am ready to go, no, I am ready to die. I accept that this malignant cancer has just about won the battle. But I also like living. For the most part I am still enjoying life. So I am in no hurry to end it either.

Around 3:00 a.m. I got up. I went to my bookshelves and found “On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D.- Also “The Peaceful Pill Handbook” published by Exit International US. My goal is to do a little reading and research to see if there are tricks or tools that the dying person can use. I am not afraid of being dead; I am a bit afraid of the process of getting from here to there. Especially if it involves suffocation, and extreme fear and anxiety at the very end.

When I moved back to America (I had lived in Europe for many years) I immediately became both uninsured and uninsurable. This isn't as big a problem as it sounds like, because CLL is incurable. Even for the insured or for rich people.

I decided that the one insurance policy I could buy would be a powerful hand gun. So I got my license to carry a concealed handgun, and I bought various pistols which were powerful enough to blow one's brains out. A .44 magnum, a .40 caliber semi automatic, and a .38 special + P. With this much firepower to the brain, death would likely be very rapid indeed. These and almost all of my other handguns including a .380 Ruger LCP have laser sights on them just in case I should need them for self protection rather than self destruction. The only handgun I own which does not have laser sights is my .38 special/.32 magnum derringer.

In the last few months I have made sure that the dog's dry food bowl always remains full with a several day supply of food. And I now have two water bowls; one is a high capacity. I even have begun leaving the sliding glass door to the patio unlocked when I am inside the house. My thought process is that surely within about two or three days my sister would notice that I am no longer posting to Facebook, Flickr, my blog, or Twitter. Hopefully she would become concerned, and try to call me. Next my guess is that she would get her husband, my brother in law, to drive over and check on me. They have agreed to take my wonderful and loving dog if “something should happen to me.”

Lying there in bed earlier tonight, trying not to suffocate, I couldn't help thinking about the loaded .44 magnum sitting in the bedstead a couple of feet away. Since my relatives will inherit this house (it is fully paid for), I don't want to make a big smelly mess of blood, bits of skull, and splattered brain all over the bedroom. If I do eventually take this route out, I certainly will need to be out in the backyard when I blow my brains out. If I could find a way, perhaps in the nearby desert.

But back to the subject at hand. Are there things that a terminally ill person can do to die gracefully? I think the word happily is wrong, but I'll bet you see what I am thinking. If it is inevitable, then as good a death as possible.

Both my Mother and my maternal Grandmother were hospitalized when they died. In the days before the final end both ladies realized that they didn't want any part of dying in an authoritarian hospital environment with all sorts of tubes hooked up to them. They tried to pull their various IV tubes out, so the medical staff tied their arms and legs to the metal hospital bed to keep them from escaping! This is barbaric in the worst way. What a terrible way to die – tied down and imprisoned. These are not good examples of the right way to die.

It is now 5:55 a.m., and I am exhausted from lack of sleep. The two books I have address other parts of the dying process, so I will keep searching. Maybe on the internet. Peaceful death. I don't know the phrases I will start out with on the search engines.

If you were completely deluded and believed in talking snakes and burning bushes you could use your Christian religious upbringing to help comfort you when dying. But I am not stupid, and I am not delusional. This is one sick and harmful religion. So we will see if I can find anything at all which will help provide comfort during the dying process.

In the meantime, from 3:00 a.m. to 6:11 a.m. I have been quite gassy. Fortunately one of the results of my bad health is that I have totally, completely lost all sense of smell. I have also taken three very sizable bowel movements. Perhaps my abdomen was just so full that there was inadequate room for the lungs and heart to do their jobs properly. I don't believe it, but it is one theory.

It is Saturday morning now, and after I make the bed, brush my teeth, shower, etc. I plan to take the dog and go down to the flea market in Socorro, Texas.


LATER THE FOLLOWING DAY:

If you Google “dying with dignity” you get all sorts of hits talking mostly about revising legislation to let physicians help terminally ill patients with the suicide process. Medscape says “Most aging adults will become physically dependent on others before they die, but does this mean they are destined to die without dignity?” So a way for the docs to develop more paying business, but not necessarily what the patient wants or what I am searching for.

I certainly do not intend to get to the point where I am dependent upon others before I die. If my physical or mental state deteriorates to where I can no longer live alone in my own home with my loving doggie, then that would be a good indicator that the time has come to go ahead and do the “dying with dignity” routine.

Maybe there is no such thing as what I am searching for. Looking back over human history we know a little about the death and burial rituals of the Americans who were living here 1,000 to 2,000 years ago (i.e., American Indians). Same with the Romans 2,000 years ago and the Egyptians 5,000 years ago. Stonehenge, the pyramids at Giza, the Jews many thousands of years ago, the death rituals of the Aztecs, the Celtic bog people, etc. Most of these groups had strong rituals and taboos regarding death. Many involved big send offs to help the dead guy arrive successfully at the next place.

For the most part these are all the kinds of myths that may have worked well for illiterate and uneducated people. But these sorts of spiritualistic rituals involving power hungry religious leaders, shamans, and/or doctors is not at all what I am hunting for.

I guess I am trying to find some sort of a tool that one old and pretty worn out, but well educated, man can use to assist him in battling anxiety and fear when the critical time comes. When you are lying there struggling for breath, it is pretty clear that death is today's specialty on the menu, and your hand is solidly on the hospice opiate button or on the .44 magnum trigger.

Just the process of writing all this down and trying to define what I am looking for gives me the answer. There is no magic answer.

Strength of character, humility, and a thankful attitude for having been fortunate enough to have lived a great and amazing life... These are the things that will get one through the crunch with as much grace and dignity as is possible.

Perhaps there is some sort of life after death. Probably not, but who knows? Either way the answer is not far away now so there isn't much point in worrying about it.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Bones – How NOT To Be A Team Leader

Dr. Camille Saroyan is a great person to learn from if you want to grow, learn, and become a supervisor or leader. She does just about everything wrong; no wonder she is so talented at running off competent staff.

She constantly humiliates, belittles, and puts down her staff. She expresses her ideas that their professional expertise and specialties (like bugs on corpses) are way far less than uninteresting. All the while she is constantly puffing herself up, reminding everyone in earshot that she is the all powerful, omnipotent boss who must be obeyed.

And she chose to have a sexual affair with one of her team members.

This lady is not a leader or a supervisor; she is one not very bright loser.

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The Recession Is Not Over

NPR reports today that new home sales in August were the second worst ever. Unemployment remains painfully high. Homes are still “underwater” and getting foreclosed on at record rates. The number of people who do not have health insurance and are excluded from the nation's health care system continues to rise. American manufacturing jobs keep getting outsourced overseas.

By any reasonable definition of the word the American economy is still in recession.

Economists who say that the recession is over need to have their heads examined.

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American Wars Kill More Contractors Than Soldiers

There are several reports in the news today saying that more “contractors” are getting killed than soldiers. I use the word “mercenaries” to describe these folks, not the more sanitized and politically correct word “contractors.” This is the clear result of Republican outsourcing, privatization, and deregulation.

The implication is unambiguous: Take the death toll rates of any of these useless wars that the Republicans have gotten us into (and that Obama does not have the strength of character to get us out of) and then double the death numbers. This is the America death toll. Long term totally screwed up young Americans is many times larger, and heaven only knows how many innocent, poorly educated, dark skinned foreigners are dying.

We need to totally, completely remove all soldiers and contractors from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Before the end of the year. This is not hyperbole, honest, just do it. Next we must cut the military and intelligence budgets by at least 50%.

Not only will this help solve the deficit, it will save many many lives.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Heinlein Quotes

Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the na├»ve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as “empty,” “meaningless,” or “dishonest,” and scorn to use them. No matter how “pure” their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.

NOTE: I would add to this Heinlein list the concept “respect.”



There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it?



History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.



One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.



When the need arises – and it does – you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don't farm it out – that doesn't make it nicer, it makes it worse.



Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.



A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Computers are a Tool, not a Solution

I saw that statement in the N.Y. Times this morning. Computers are a tool, not a solution. It got me to thinking.

In order to successfully accomplish tasks, tools can often be helpful. An 18-wheeler truck is a tool which provides immense help in transportation; the same with a forklift truck, a farm tractor, or a backhoe. A pipe wrench makes the job much easier when one is working on threaded pipe. A volt-ohm-meter can be a $9.95 tool or they can cost several hundred dollars. The cheap one is just as good as the big, heavy expensive digital one for almost all electrical tasks.

There are so many tools in our lives nowadays. Brooms speed up cleaning the floor, vacuum cleaners the carpeting, and sewing machines do a much better job than hand sewing and are quicker too. Flashlights are wonderful, and flashlights which shine red don't interfere with your night vision. Televisions allow one to watch movies from the comfort of one's own home, rather than having to go out to a movie theater. Microscopes and telescopes help people see and understand things which normally are not visible. Telephones improve communication by order of magnitude, and the twenty first century version, the cell phone, helps even more. Cell phones also do useful things like keep track of your shopping list, run your diary-calendar, take photographs and movies, and send and receive text messages. They can be a useful tool. If you text while you drive a car, they can also be deadly. If self protection or hunting are important to you, then a firearm is an extremely powerful tool.

Some think that an automobile is mostly a status symbol or a way to lure in hot chicks, but mostly they are just tools to get you from here to there. If they are quiet, comfortable, have decent air conditioning, and get good fuel economy they have achieved most of their purpose as a very useful tool. They don't need to go boom-boom-boom from a 1,000 watt stereo, and chrome wheels only are an impediment which just need to be cleaned more often.

Less than 1% of computers are used for hard core number crunching by scientists. In the context of kids and high school or college, computers are mostly used to communicate with one's friends, to watch videos, or play video games. Kids who use computers for writing actually seem to be less skilled when it comes to capitalization, basic sentence structure, and spelling.

Computers in the classroom are not an end in themselves, but are simply a tool. The important issues are: Can the kid solve simple algebra equations to help them get the correct answer to problems? Have they learned the most important lessons from history? Do they know how to research a problem, and can they recognize a real answer or solution as opposed to one presented by a con artist simply trying to take their money? Have these kids learned how to manage their money, balancing cash outflow with cash inflow, or do they get themselves horribly, deeply in debt after purchasing too much consumer trash as soon as they have the opportunity? Can they recognize and see through dishonest fanaticism, or are they taken in simply due to their own ignorance and lack of experience?

Tools can make one's life more productive. But they can also get in the way and actually be an impediment. Most of us know people who seem to actually be addicted to constant use of their cell phone for texting and their computers to check out Facebook or Twitter. These people are like prescription drug addicts or alcoholics – their lives become dominated by assuring their regular fixes. Going without their drugs becomes a massive problem. The video game addicts may be the worst.

Useful tools can become horribly dysfunctional. It is all a matter of balance and keeping things in perspective. The losers get sucked in, the survivors don't allow these tools to dominate their lives; they understand they tools are only a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stephen Fry On The Catholic Church



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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Escapism

I am so tired of hearing and thinking about the corrupt, lying America politicians. It is nice to enjoy a little escapism without resorting to drugs or alcohol.

Next week are the season premiers of House on Monday, and on Thursday the premiers of Bones and Fringe.

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Red Shoes


I'm not a Catholic, so I have vast areas of ignorance about their faith.

Question: Is it traditional for the Pope to wear red shoes, or is this little pleasure unique to Joseph Ratzinger?

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Mexico Celebrates 200th Birthday

This should be a really special day. The two hundredth birthday of the country of Mexico. There should be wild celebrations going on all over Mexico.

But the narco violence, the governmental corruption, and the almost complete ineffectiveness of the police, military, and courts is what is being talked about. Celebrations have been officially canceled in many locations due to the violence and the inability of the government to protect the law abiding people.

Mexico has always had a problem with the caste system. The super-rich at the top did not have to obey almost any laws, and they blatantly ignored the suffering of the majority of Mexicans. In fact they even lied to themselves, convincing themselves that Mexico was an up and coming modern democracy. Ha! Right.

The country of Mexico has had revolutions before, and it may well be that another one is coming.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Is Peace So Difficult in Palestine?

It seems like every few years some arrogant, big mouth, hot shot politician in America decides that he/she is The One capable of bringing about peace.

Things go fine for a while, but once real progress is happening the extremists in both the Palestine camp and the Israeli extremists figure out some way to torpedo the deal.

With the Palestinians it is difficult to understand why they find poverty and conflict as better than prosperity for their people. They surely understand that until they openly accept Israel's right to exist, Israel is going to fight to the death. The Palestinians are never going to be allowed to move back to Israel, take back their conquered land, and change the voting and demographics to where the Jews probably would no longer be a majority. The Israelis are simply not going to give back all of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. It won't happen. By demanding it the Palestinians are killing the peace negotiations.

Maybe there are super-rich Arabs who donate large amounts of money to the Palestinians as long as the conflict continues. So some of the Palestinian leaders have become addicted to this welfare. Actually having to go to work and try to solve problems sounds very difficult. Better the status quo.

Among the Jews there is a vast amount of money coming in from America in support of the Israeli state. Mostly from individual rich American Jews but also plenty from the taxpayers and the government of America. See above paragraph about the status quo. There is the second dynamic, which is the builders. There is a massive, wealthy industry in Israel building these houses and apartments in the “settlements.” Just like builders in America, the number one goal is to keep building and keep getting richer.

Last there are the lunatic, fanatic right wing Jewish religious types. These people are not rational. Like true believers in all faiths, Christian or Moslem, they operate based upon sacred old text books, ritual, and faith. These freako super-religious types have resulted in millions of dead people over the last 2,000 years.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fifty Year Old Natural Gas Pipelines

My father worked for one of the larger natural gas companies which transport gas at high pressures through very large pipelines from the natural gas wells, often thousands of miles to the areas (like California) which use a lot of gas.

I grew up in the culture and the industry. Literally. I was a young boy when I started going to the shop with my Dad on weekends. As a young boy I learned to weld, learned about hydraulics, pneumatics, electrical, and plumbing. Sometimes I would ride with him if he went out on a night time call. He didn't deal with residential customers; his job was the automated instrumentation at the pumping stations located periodically along the trans continental pipelines.

They attempted to stop or reduce corrosion of these large pipelines through the use of cathodic protection. The concept does work. But fifty years is a long time too. You wouldn't send your daughter off to college in a 50 year old car, and if you had a choice you wouldn't fly in airplanes that old either. It doesn't matter how well they do the maintenance. Leaks from corrosion and pin-holing of these enormous pipelines are not uncommon.

I don't imagine the investors thought much about having eventually to replace these pipelines back when they were first laid. The guys who founded these companies were entrepreneurs. Certainly in the last 15 or 20 years obscene greed has ruled the business community. There is no big bank account or trust fund sitting somewhere which these companies can utilize to begin replacing these trans continental pipelines. The profits have all gone to big salaries and bonuses for the top executives and to the owners-shareholders.

I really don't know what they will do. By all rights they should be required to devote a substantial portion of their profits to this important safety issue of pipeline replacement, but that is not very likely.

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Great Video Clip

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Charter Schools

I readily admit that I am not fully up to date on what is happening with the nation's publicly funded schools. I am not an educator, and I don't even have school age kids any more.

What I do know is that we all want the youth of America being properly educated. I also read my property tax statement, and I see the vast amounts of money that I am spending on educating these kids. I think many of us suspect that lots of disrespectful kids are making it through high school (and maybe even beyond) without being able to spell, punctuate, or capitalize sentences. Their math skills end at being able to balance a check book, they didn't learn a second language, and their knowledge of history is seriously lacking. Jay Leno likes to make fun about how incredibly ignorant and uninformed many Americans are.

These kids are being taught that the ideas of fundamentalist Christianity are more valid than Evolution and Charles Darwin's ideas. This politicization of the school curriculum by the right wing is nothing less than propaganda. A re-writing of history in lot of cases.

The demographic shift from America being a mostly Anglo society to one that is heavily Hispanic is generating challenges as well. It seems like some kids in America don't read well in either Spanish or English. Of course allowing these Hispanics to continue on and receive their diplomas without being able to properly function in the English language guarantees them a sentence of being permanently relegated as a second class citizen.

I am beginning to suspect that charter schools are an assault on democracy and public education. Taxpayers fund these schools, but they are run by private companies. So an important element of democratic control is lost. Even though smart people like President Obama support charter schools, this feels more and more like privatization. Bush and the deregulation fanatics wanted to privatize social security, and they have made great strides in privatizing the military through independent contractors.

The assault on democracy is right out there in the open, but not many people seem worried about it.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

John Dobson

The inventor of the Dobsonian Telescope was John Dobson. In the past he has spent a great deal of time here visiting with the El Paso Astronomy Group. He is old now, but his mind is so sharp it is almost scary.

This fine older gentlemen is brilliant, and his thoughts are as fresh and young as a twenty year old. This video clip is about six minutes long, and it is filled with pearls of wisdom and humor.

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Ex-Workers Who Kill Those Who Have Treated Them Unfairly

Over the last few years it has become more common to hear about an employee who gets fired. The worker feels strongly that he or she has been treated improperly. So the terminated employee returns with one or more loaded firearms and proceeds to kill those individuals that she/he feels treated them badly.

Many times these individuals are long term employees, and when they return they are very specific in who they target and kill. Specific owners, managers, supervisors, and sometimes even their ex-colleagues.

The company always has a great story to tell about how well they treat their workers. But there is always a strong nagging suspicion that there are two sides to this story, and that there probably is something to the aggrieved employee's story about ill treatment. Sometimes this involves continued racial discrimination, other times it is a case where the company has made specific promises to the employee but then does not fulfill its commitment.

Either way, which ever side of the story seems most believable to you, one or more of the owners, managers, or supervisors typically has now been shot dead.

I worked as a supervisor and then as a manager for twenty five years. Based upon my personal experience it is crystal clear to me that if one treats workers like children, they will behave like children. But if the bosses are truly honest with the workers, and if they respect them and take the time to listen to them, these sorts of terrible situations should never occur.


LINKS TO NEWS ARTICLES:
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2010/09/10/2010-09-10_suspended_female_employee_opens_fire_at_kraft_foods_facility_in_philly_killing_t.html

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20100910_Shooter_kills_2_Kraft_workers_at_Northeast_Philadelphia_plant.html


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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Koran Burning 2.01

It is absolutely silly all the fuss being made about this.

This guy is behaving as a good American should. People who acquiesce, lower their heads, or kiss ass in the face of religious intolerance and evil need to take a good look in the mirror. Islam is a terrible belief system, much like Nazism. It is completely intolerant to other religions, it does not allow girls to get an education, it supports suicide killings against innocents, and sharia law says that young girls need to have their clit cut off.

In America we simply don't permit burning witches at the stake or far out religious groups like the KKK. Anyone who says that Islam and Muslims should be treated with the same respect as Christianity or Judaism should go join their buddies in Al Kaida.

This pastor in Florida may be rather ignorant and not all that bright, but he knows that it is time to draw a line in the sand. This is the proper, decent American thing to do. It is time that we stand up against the brutality of Mohammedanism.

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Geezer Scooter on Toyota Prius


I installed this yesterday afternoon, and this is the first trial. This park is far enough from our house that it isn't practical to drive there on the scooter.

This way the dog and I get a nice outing at the park.

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Koran Burning 2.0

There seems to be an absolute firestorm building simply because a pastor of a small Florida church feels that he needs to publicly stand up and make a statement about the evils of the Islamic religion. Everyone from President Obama to General Petraeus have weighed in now. They all are arguing for religious tolerance. In their view this means allowing Muslims to burn American flags, kill members of other religions, cut off young girl's clits, and keep girls from receiving a proper education. This is not an acceptable position for leaders in America to be supporting.

Islam in practice is as bad as Nazisim or the KKK in America were in practice. What this rural Christian minister and a great many normal Americans see is that this is not at all about religion. It is not religious tolerance to say that Americans should accept all this hate speech and hate action (killing and stoning) by the adherents of Mohamed. Accepting and tolerating burning witches at the stake is not religious tolerance.

When it is possible to build a Christian church in Saudi Arabia, then we should allow more mosques to be built in America. And certainly it is consistent with being a loyal, patriotic American to oppose construction of this controversial mosque just a few blocks from where the supporters of Islam killed so many people of various nationalities and faiths.

This is not a conflict between Christianity and Islam. It is an indictment of a philosophy which is completely inconsistent with what America stands for.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Koran Burning

Islam is a terribly defective religion. The guys who flew airliners into the world trade center and the pentagon did so in the name of Mohamed. Islam recommends cutting off young girl's clits. Sharia law permits stoning to death a woman who may have had an affair. In many Muslim countries women cannot even leave the house without a male familial companion. Girls are not permitted to get an education in Muslim countries. Islam is a completely intolerant religion, not accepting other religious faiths. Just try building a Christian church in Saudi Arabia.

In the name of the holy Mohamed, Muslims routinely wear suicide bomb vests or drive suicide car bombs so that they can randomly kill innocent people. Islam is the faith of the ignorant. Intelligent, open minded people could not possibly say good things about this faith.

One would be expected to actively oppose racism, the KKK, and the Nazis. One cannot be ambivalent on this issue, just keeping quiet and silently whimpering. I approve of the people who want to be honest and open about how terrible Islam is.

This little Koran burning ceremony in Florida seems just fine to me.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Flight Attendant is HIV Positive

Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who exited the plane down the emergency chute at JFK after using the airplane's PA system to tell a rude passenger exactly what he thought, says that he is HIV positive.

I am not homophobic, and the job of flight attendant seems like one that might suit a young gay man. But after spending a long career in food processing, I do admit to some concern that someone who is HIV positive is engaged in serving food and drinks.

It is highly improper and illegal for someone who is HIV positive to have sex without first telling their sexual partner about their affliction. Dentists now routinely wear masks and have on surgical gloves to protect against transmission of HIV.

Is it not equally reasonable that the customers deserve to be provided with advance warning before someone who is HIV positive prepares and serves their drinks or food?

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Monday, September 06, 2010

L.A. County sheriff's deputies taking longer to respond to emergencies

The LA Times isn't sure whether this is due to the budget problems. Don't be naive. Cops are people like anyone else...except that many are on a heavy power trip and they carry loaded guns.

The city manager and city council of El Paso, Texas think they are real smart to try and claw back nickles and dimes from the men and women who routinely risk their lives on the job. They need to take off their rose colored glasses and stop being so childish.

There will be a payback. Probably not one that anyone will ever be able to prove, just things will stop going so flawlessly with the law enforcement types.

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More Troops To Afghanistan?

The military generals always want more troops. Its one of those rules of nature. Even though they have stated very clearly that this war against the Taliban can't be won militarily, they still want more funding and more soldiers. Endlessly.

So Barack: Are you going to cave in to the lifers again, or are you going to start reducing the number of troops – like you promised?

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Tropical Storm Hermine


Hey Ron, looks like Hermione is going to dump on San Antonio.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Afghanistan Corruption

Several months ago Obama and the top American military men were all agreeing with each other that the war in Afghanistan simply could not be won militarily. There was a general consensus that the military could only provide some level of security while the civilian, democratic government got more involved and better organized. All parties seemed to be enjoying stressing that for this process to work the government had to greatly reduce corruption.

It seems like a daily event now to read an article about the latest corrupt act of the Karsai government. The Afghani government does not appear to be even trying to get corruption stopped or under control.

The most disturbing part of all this is that the growing corruption has not slowed down Obama or the American military one bit. They have just stopped mentioning that there is general agreement that the war cannot be won militarily, and that a competent and clean civilian government is essential to the process of neutralizing the Taliban.

The biggest bank in Afghanistan seems to be failing. There is a run in process on the bank. Of course President Karsai, his family, and his cronies have been involved in many of the shady banking deals. The deregulation Republicans under Bush set up much of the financial system, so I suppose it is not surprising that it all coming apart now like a house of cards.

ARTICLE LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/world/asia/06afghan.html

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Misogyny and Misandry

Based upon the sum of their life's experiences, some men gradually come to generally dislike women. This has nothing to do with sex, and it certainly doesn't in any way imply a sexual attraction to other men. It is normally called misogyny, a hostility towards the female gender. At least among women misogyny is seen as terribly socially unacceptable, sort of like being racially biased. When there are no women present, many men will will fess up and admit to their dislike of most things female. Breasts and vaginas which are not all worn out, i.e., less than 30 years old, are clearly the exception.

Misandry is the opposite, being a hatred or contempt of all men or boys. There is open contempt by most women of the things that men consider important, even when men are present. Examples: Ripping off a roaring fart or a good burp. It is generally accepted by women that for men to be biased against women is a sickness, but for women to be be biased against men just demonstrates their superior intelligence. This contempt is not seen as being socially unacceptable at all. Women view it as their important social mission to improve and change their man. They think this is part of the reason they were created.

I am an old geezer now, and over the span of a long life I have been married three times. Each of my wives was intelligent, charming, sexy, and attractive. They were especially charming during the early phases of the relationship, prior to our getting married. Over time I grew to dislike each of them; I'm sure that the feeling was probably mutual.

You used to hear some men say about women, “You can't live with them, and you can't live without them.” I disagree. Men do NOT need women to survive or be happy.

Having been single for the last six years I can attest that one can indeed live very happily without a woman. In fact I find that living alone (with just my neutered male doggie) is far superior to being forced to live with another person – especially a woman.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

Motorized Geezer Scooter

Now that the leukemia has reached the advanced stage my platelets are low and so is my hemoglobin. I am very anemic. So I have almost zero strength or stamina. If I walk more than about 20 feet (6 meters) I get light headed and have to stop and rest for a moment.

My little doggie has been very empathic and accepting of this, but at heart he is an athlete and just loves to run. So earlier this week I broke down and bought myself a geezer scooter. It supposedly can go 15 – 20 miles (24km - 32km) on one battery charge, and if I wanted to it would go fairly fast.

I put the long lead on my doggie, and we take scooter-walks together. Its real nice for both of us.

After we got home from this morning's walk, I installed a spare Garmin GPS that was just sitting around on the geezer-scooter.

LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Pride-Victory-10-4-Wheel-Scooter/

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Murder With Impunity

According to an article in Diario, a Juarez newspaper, in only three percent of the murder cases have the Mexican authorities even established a suspect and passed the case on to the judiciary. Even in those cases which are sent to a judge, there is seldom any conviction or sentence to a guilty party.

In the city of Juarez, Mexico one can commit the crime of murder with a certainty of almost total impunity.



ARTICLE LINK: http://www.diario.com.mx/notas.php?f=2010/09/01&id=955be37356e22a2ae3a1f5a5173807ae

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Drones Patrolling Mexican Border

There are several reports in the news that unmanned aircraft are now patrolling the entire border with Mexico, all the way from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. So what is their mission?

Are they carrying missiles so that they can shoot and kill drug smugglers, gun runners, or human traffickers? This is how it is done in Pakistan. If some anonymous American government bureaucrat thinks that some dark skinned foreign person is a bad guy, then it is OK to just go right ahead and kill him, and maybe a few of the women and children around him too. No need for any of that liberal or progressive nonsense like the courts or the constitution.

In Afghanistan-Pakistan they are fighting the undeclared war against terrorism, and here in the USA on the border with Mexico we are fighting Ronald Raygun's undeclared war against drugs.

Or maybe the mission of these drones is utterly humanitarian. Try to spot people crossing the long hot desert on foot who may die from dehydration. This way humanitarian water can be delivered to them by helicopter, jeep, or ATV. Somehow I doubt that this is part of the government's reason for flying these drones around.

I guess the primary mission must be to enrich the companies which makes and maintains the drones. It also makes the remote control drone drivers and their joy sticks seem more important and gives them a bit more job security. The racist Republicans are also using this issue to try and make Obama look bad and the GOP look good.

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Juarez, Mexico Narco Murders

August was the most violent month in the history of the city of Juarez. A total of 15 people were killed in mostly separate incidents yesterday bringing the total number for the month to 336. The number of narco murders in the month of August 2010 surpasses any previous ANNUAL total before 2008. So far this year, an average of 8 people have been killed in Juarez per day, or one homicide every 3 hours on average.

The total for the country of Mexico this year is reported to be 7,638...more than one-fourth of the homicides in the country of Mexico have occurred in Juarez.

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