Wednesday, March 31, 2010

T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) -Freedom!

"We were a self-centred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man's creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare. As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning procession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts. Willy-nilly it became a faith. We had sold ourselves into its slavery, manacled ourselves together in its chain-gang, bowed ourselves to serve its holiness with all our good and ill content. The mentality of ordinary human slaves is terrible - they have lost the world - and we had surrendered, not body alone, but soul to the overmastering greed of victory. By our own act we were drained of morality, of volition, of responsibility, like dead leaves in the wind. ... our taskmaster was merciless, merciless, so long as our bruised feet could stagger forward on the road. The weak envied those tired enough to die; ... " - Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Introduction.

I love freedom, but things aren't always what they seem.
T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) -regarding The Great Hat Controversy.

"Our persistence in the hat (due to a misunderstanding of the ways of heat-stroke) had led the East to see significance in it, and after long thought their wisest brains concluded that Christians wore the hideous thing that its broad brim might interpose between their weak eyes and the uncongenial sight of God. So it reminded Islam continually that God was miscalled and misliked by Christians. The British thought this prejudice reprehensible (quite unlike our hatred of a head-cloth), one to be corrected at any price. If the people would not have us hatted, they should not have us any way." - Seven Pillars of Wisdom, The Discovery of Feisal, Chapter XVI.

Note: I use a hat that is really just a small head-cloth, white colored to reflect heat, with no brim to interpose between my eyes and God.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NUMMI plant closing, and the impact on Fremont with the loss of 4,700 high paying jobs and perhaps another 20,000 in the Northern California region.
T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) -regarding the wisdom of organizing the Arab revolt against the Turks.

"They were weak in material resources, and even after success would be, since their world was agricultural and pastoral, without minerals, and could never be strong in modern armaments. Were it otherwise, we should have had to pause before evoking in the strategic centre of the Middle East new national movements of such abounding vigour." - Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Chapter XIV.

Lawrence died in 1935, while oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938. He would never have imagined that the world's most valuable and important mineral resource would be discovered here!
T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) - regarding giving your life to a foreign people:

"Pray God that men reading the story will not, for love of the glamour of stangeness, go out to prostitute themselves and their talents in serving another race.

A man who gives himself to be a possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life, having bartered his soul to a brute-master. He is not of them. He may stand against them, persuade himself of a mission, batter and twist them into something which they, of their own accord would not have been. Then he is exploiting his old environment to press them out of theirs. Or, after my model, he may imitate them so well that they spuriously imitate him back again. Then he is giving away his own environment: pretending to theirs; and pretenses are hollow, worthless things. In neither case does he do a thing of himself, nor a thing so clean as to be his own (without thought of conversion), letting them take what action or reaction they please from the silent example.
" - Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Introduction.

Lawrence has a number of interesting observations from his life among the Bedouins. I read this book a few years back, but thought I would go back and look for a few quotes. This one caught my attention due to having been a foreigner for most of my life, even in my own home! In the early years, the 'pretense' was all too much. Now, I just relax and go with the flow.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today's Vocabulary Definition: Weapon of Mass Destruction.

The news had a lot about a "Christian Militia" that was arrested. I couldn't help but notice that they were being indicted for "Weapons of Mass Destruction". First, I will say that I have complete confidence in the FBI, so I don't believe that they are making things up or planting devices. On reading this, however, I had visions of a nuke or something biologically nasty. Since the news didn't have a photograph of something like a sarin gas factory à la Aum Shinrikyo, I began wondering what the current definition of a WMD really is...

The indictment references Title 18 section 2332a of the criminal code which - among other things - defines a WMD as "any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title". Checking Title 18 section 921 we see "The term 'destructive device' means - ... bomb, grenade, ... missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce, mine, ... any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter ...". Basically everything that the US military has is now legally a WMD except for pistols and basic rifles! Run your car until the gas tank is nearly empty and there will probably be at least one-quarter ounce of gas vapor in the tank that would go boom if a match were tossed in, while a car can certainly be used as a missile. Are we all guilty of WMD possession now? A Molotov cocktail can be made by any kid, yet it would also qualify as a WMD. Anyone want to check and see if I misread this?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

*Deleted* The original link for the subject is here.
Dealing with The Blues.

My kids had tossed some new pants into the washer machine. Later my mother brought down my father's socks and underwear to wash also. I don't quite recall all the details, but it was advised that the underwear be done in the same laundry load as the kids pants. The result was startling, but almost looks like that was the way things were intended to be.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Augustine ponders dark matter ... and remarks on Bible authority.

"Another interpretation would say that the text means that this totality called heaven and earth was still formless and dark matter, out of which was made the intelligible heaven, elsewhere called 'the heaven of heaven', and the earth, meaning the entire physical world of nature, including under that title the physical heaven also; that is, it was the source for the entire creation, invisible and visible." - Confessions XIII.30

Yikes! Who would have imagined dark matter coming from the Christian theologians of the 4th - 5th century! They seem to be ahead of our current physicists, however, in that they think dark matter can be transformed into other kinds of matter. Augustine wisely stays neutral on this and merely describes the theory for our benefit.

"They do not judge those spiritual intelligences which are 'lights in the firmament'; it would be inappropriate to judge such sublime authority. Nor do they sit in judgment on your book, even if there is obscurity there. We submit our intellect to it, and hold it for certain that even language closed to our comprehension is right and true." - Confessions XIII.33

I need to put together a talk on inerrancy soon, so this will be a nice quote.
Augustine on Wisdom and Time.

" ... So there was a wisdom created before all things which is a created thing ... We do not find there was time before it, because it precedes the creation of time; yet it is created first of all things. However, prior to it is the eternity of the Creator himself. On being created by him it took its beginning - not a beginning in time, since time did not yet exist, but one belonging to its own special condition." - Confessions XII.20

It is starting to appear that I might finish this book before time ends.
Suicide in California. I was surprised to learn that we are one of the lowest states as far as suicide rates go.















Friday, March 26, 2010

Ahwanee Hotel.

A room cost $450 per night at the Ahwanee, which is a long ways beyond my budget. We dropped in to gawk, had some lunch, and later headed for Yosemite Bed and Breakfast near Mariposa.
























































Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Lost Cause ...

My son had an astronomy course last quarter at UCLA. This was a propaganda course (i.e. easy 'A'), so it included a lot of the "north campus" students (non-technology). They spent all their time talking about evolution, extra terrestrials and two additional items: Dark Matter and Dark Energy. For those who don't know, Dark Matter was theorized because the postulated mass and size of galaxies is incompatible with the laws of motion, thus, Dark Matter is required to hold things together. Dark Energy was theorized to solve an equally perplexing issue: Per the postulated steady state models of the universe, stars are older than the big-bang. To resolve this, the expansion of the universe must be occurring at an accelerating rate, and this can only be accounted for by Dark Energy - a fantastically large energy source that involves undetectable energy.

My proposal to physics is to come up with a unified theory for all this: The cause of the anomalies hasn't been found, thus, clearly it is lost. From this fact, we can easily deduce that the resolution of the anomalies is explained by The Lost Cause. This has the added benefit of bringing about a unification with the theory of evolution, which already explains everything in terms of The Lost Cause. I have no need for fame myself, so I will suggest this for any ambitious young physicist who is looking for a promising new line of research.
Mormon Bar, California: Where the West became Wild ...

;-) As you can see from the memorial, the American West was a land of peaceful, fulfilled aboriginals prior to the invasion.
Yosemite Falls.









































Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A bit of Yosemite.

It has been a lot of driving today and I am too tired to do anything more. Goodnight y'all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

India's latest WMD (Weapon of Mouth Destruction) - The diabolical chili grenade.

As a hard core WMD lover, this really has caught my attention. The article says that the new munition uses 1 mega-Scoville chili peppers, whereas a conventional Jalapeño only has a max of 8 kilo-Scovilles. This leaves me wondering what DARPA might be researching, and what sort of counter measures Pakistan is cooking up.
Bayfront Park.











































Some pictures from Regional Parks Botanic Garden.





















Some lefties analyze Obamacare ...

"So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth." - Revelation 3:16

Everyone knows by now that free market types loathe Obamacare. Hopefully both left and right can agree that Obamacare moves wildly away from a capitalist ideal, even if they don't agree on the name of our former system that so badly demanded reform. But does that mean it is moving towards Socialism? Consider what the socialists are saying:

"The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint VP. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%."

"As Marcy Wheeler noted in an important post entitled “Health Care on the Road to NeoFeudalism,” we stand on the precipice of doing something truly radical in our government, by demanding that Americans pay almost as much money to private insurance companies as they do in federal taxes:"

So the health care companies wrote the bill and they stand to reap massive financial rewards from it! Most likely they will also be financing the campaigns of the Democrats in the fall. Conclusion: Obamacare is essentially 0% free market, yet it is also 0% socialist. The name for what it is, however, cannot be spoken! (This came to me via John Hobbins.)
To bee, or not to bee ...
















Monday, March 22, 2010

Rrrrriiiinnnngggg ...

"Hello?"
"Is this Mrs. Looney?"
"Yes ..."
"This is your friendly banker. We have an investment opportunity for you. You can open an account that is in Chinese Ren Min Bi. When the US dollar goes down, you will be able to convert the money back to dollars at a much better rate. The best part of this is that the account is FDIC insured. Would you like to open an account?"

The conversation was real. For those who don't know, the Chinese central bank has been buying US dollars to keep the US dollar's value high relative to Chinese currency with the idea of helping their exports to the US. The result is that the Chinese government owns $2.4 trillion of US currency. (FDIC = Federal Deposit Insurance Company, which is the government institution that insures against a bank becoming insolvent.)

The idea here is for individual investors to bet against both the Chinese government and the US government by short selling US dollars. On the surface it seems good. The Chinese had a reality check from The Great Leap Forward, which left perhaps 40 million people dead. A respect for capitalism was the result which has made China the fastest growing economy in the world. American intellectuals are determined to prove that they can follow up with similar policies, but the results will be different. On the surface, the banker's proposal looks quite sound.

On the other side of the calculation, the likelihood of the US government switching to a super-majority with American beliefs and values is essentially nil, and they would still be stymied by leftist judges. China is where the risk is hiding. They are currently experiencing their own property bubble and the one child policy is going to start causing major problems over the next decade.

The final calculation is that if $10,000 is invested and the Ren Min Bi loses 90% of its value relative to the dollar, then the final value of the account would be $1,000 and there would be a $9,000 loss. On the other hand, if the US dollar loses 90% of its value relative to the Ren Min Bi, the final value of the account would be $100,000 US - for a $90,000 gain. Is it a good bet? Do we need to report capital gains and pay taxes?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Health Care" rammed through. Now what?

There are many reactions, but the first Christian one should be:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established." - Romans 13:1

I should note that this was written in the time of Claudius, Caligula and Nero, who would be known as the worst emperors of the Roman Empire. Few these days know that fascism was all about a wise, benevolent and scientific government "guiding" corporations to restrain the evils of unfettered capitalism. In practice, this meant whipping up populist feelings against corporations to gather power to the state, then using those corporations to accomplish the will of the state. Eventually the state needed some scapegoats for the inevitable economic failure, and that is when group animosity morphed into terror.

It should be obvious by now that the last thing that "Health Care Reform" is about is health care reform. Instead, it is simply a wild lust for power by leftists who are determined to repeat the horrible mistakes of the 20th century. But still, Christians should submit, because God commands us to do so. My sense is that the experiment in shaking fists at the laws of economics is doomed to fail, but we still need to be supportive, even if many of us die in the process of the laws of economics reasserting themselves.

"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." - Romans 13:3-4

Yikes! Keep in mind that Paul who wrote this would be executed by Nero in a fit of rage as he sought scapegoats to shift blame for the burning of Rome. It is true in another sense that if we are innocent with respect to man and God, then we have no reason to fear even if we are executed. Anyway, we shall see how things proceed. I believe the far left is driven by an irrational, burning rage against Christians, thus, they will be incapable of stopping. Instead, they will be driven on to take America on a ride like the hijackers who took control of the airlines during 9/11. Might as well enjoy the ride!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Berkeley Marina on a hazy day viewed with the Vivitar Ultrazoom. Unprocessed.

Don't know what this bird is.












One of these bad birds has an ankle bracelet. Obviously on parole.












Row, row, row your boat.













"I will bring you hope and change."













Berkeley Pier, Alcatraz, and a bit of the Golden Gate Bridge on the right.

Friday, March 19, 2010

An Experiment ...

My parents are here visiting and yesterday was my father's 79th birthday. There was a tradition started long, long ago where my grandmother started making a chocolate cake with green, almond flavored icing for my father's birthday.

Normally I would delegate the production of such a cake to my kids, but they are gone now. Thus, the job fell on me. I fetched a cake mix and managed to do something that at least looks a bit plausible. Thankfully my mother was here to give some guidance.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Harvardnomics ...

"Dyin ain't much of a living, boy." - The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Apparently, this memorable phrase from a Clint Eastwood movie is far too profound for today's university economics professors. In the movie, just before the young bounty hunter gets killed, he explains that he needs to fight Josey Wales to "earn a living", and he goes through with getting himself killed as a result. A similar example of brilliant thinking follows:

"For less skilled and lower paid Americans, there is need to restructure the labor
market for their services so they do not fall further behind the rest of the country. Some of the policies that can help them through this period are 'tried and true': a strengthening of rights at work that would allow them to gain a share of the profits of firms in nontraded goods markets through trade unions; higher minimum wages; expansion of earned income tax credit; and provision of social services such as health insurance that makes them less costly to hire."

This was written by Harvard Economics professor Richard Freeman. His thesis is that the rise in unemployment in the US is a result of a doubling of the world's workforce, and not the result of job killing policies by the government. What is 'tried and proven' is that if the government kills the incentives for a person to work, then she probably won't work. If the government makes it a pain for employers to hire and fire, they probably won't hire. If you shift taxation away from the individual (i.e. Earned Income Tax Credit + expanded social benefits) and onto American producers, it creates a direct financial incentive to stop buying American products and buy foreign ones instead, while foreigners will also prefer less costly products from less taxed non-American producers. Freeman, however, asserts the exact opposite of the laws of economics. The average American can grasp that if you jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, the laws of gravity will take over and you will descend and most likely die. Applying Freeman's style of 'reason' to the same situation, we would find out that the jump would cause you to rise to heaven instead. I guess suicide is a form of "hope and change".

To be fair (I mean to be wildly generous), Professor Freeman wrote this article in 2006 and may have re-thought things a bit as America moves into The Greater Depression. I ran across this while looking at today's San Francisco Chronicle web site, so quite clearly there are plenty of high-brow sorts that still can't grasp the elementary laws of economics. So once you have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, what do you do on the way down?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Little Yosemite ...

It should probably be renamed, Very Little Yosemite, but it is still a nice place to go. The rains of Friday caused quite a flow on Saturday, compared to the summer trickle.











































































Monday, March 15, 2010

The Glenn Beck controversy ...

Disclaimer: I watch FOX News, but I have probably accumulated no more than an hour of Beck viewing after several years.

The controversy (which I didn't see) was developed because Glenn informed his viewers that they should avoid churches that advertise their concern about "social justice" or "economic justice". Leftist already despised Beck, but this sent up howls of rage that Christianity was all about "justice". Indeed we have verses in the Bible like:

"Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." - Isaiah 1:21

The Bible Gateway turns up 134 hits on the word, so certainly this is a major Bible topic. Indeed everyone who is truly a Christian must care about compassion and justice, but is this the same as populist, leftist "economic justice" and "social justice"? We need to recognize that no vocabulary definition is safe when leftists are busy redefining and spinning things. Thus, I will give a few examples of how Justice is mocked by these same people who so noisily talk about Justice. First, I will note a favorite verse of Leftists:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged." - Matthew 7:1

Can someone tell me how humans are supposed to bring about justice between disputing parties without first judging? A husband dumps his wife and children to pursue a gay life - after infecting her with an STD, with a massive taxpayer funded medical bill - and conservatives are routinely ordered not to judge by Leftists. "Nobody got hurt!" "It didn't do you any harm, so you shouldn't judge!" Right. But then those who condemn Judging dedicate their church to Justice!!!

The Bible's notion of justice includes many things, but we will start with this:

"Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness." - Exodus 23:1

I don't need to do much more here than note Climategate. To be fair, conservatives do plenty of this too, so we need to be careful about casting stones. Still, you won't hear conservatives beating an "environmental justice" drum to get research dollars into her pocket. Another good example is Roe v. Wade, where leftists judges deliberately lied about what was in the constitution so that abortionism could be unconstitutionally imposed on the US as a brand new law. Conservatives do provide malicious witness often, but at least conservatism condemns the practice and they can sometimes be brought to shame. Leftists consider mendacity a virtue as long as it is done by their own.

"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit." - Exodus 23:2-3

Leftist justice is always about the mob. We envy. We want. We community organize, agree and demand. Therefore, we have a right to riot and take. It there is a rich man and a poor man, the rich man is automatically guilty, or at least the corporation is guilty. Polybius described the phenomenon of mob Justice that multiplied as Democracy was nearing its natural end.

"Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits." - Exodus 23:6

It would seem hard to violate both Exodus 23:3 and Exodus 23:6, but leftists manage. First, the rich are deemed guilty because they are rich. Then both rich and poor alike are pillaged by the trial lawyers under our Leftist designed tort system. Justice? Maybe I could see it if I were a rich trial lawyer ...

"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt." - Exodus 23:9

Having been an alien, I have plenty of criticism for both Conservatives (regarding illegals) and Leftists (regarding illegals and other socially suffering minorities). The Conservatives will deny work which is directly contrary to the Bible, although I think it is still needed to police the borders and evict illegals. Leftists, however, are far worse: They simply want to use government funded benefits to draw in as many foreigners as possible for the purpose of destroying American civilization. The children will be dumped into dysfunctional union/government schools where they are doomed, and any attempt to provide the children with a future will run into massive litigation from sanctimonious liberals, the educators unions, and judges trained only in leftist law. Leftist unions fight even harder than conservatives to keep the aliens out of work. The net effect is to force aliens to grow up in a manner that guarantees that they will replenish the mob that was condemned in Exodus 23:2. All of this is done under the banner of "Justice".

"If a man will not work, he shall not eat." - 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Let the illegal alien work so he can eat. Don't entice him to come to America with government supplied food, housing, clothing, health care, schooling, transportation, and everything else, and then order him not to work. High unemployment and not enough jobs? Fight for Justice by banning unions and there will be enough jobs! (OK, that was a bit oversimplified.)

So is Justice important to Christians? Certainly. That doesn't mean we aren't allowed to criticize those who blatantly invoke "Justice" for political gain or out of envy. But then there is one more passage to note:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called faithful and True. With JUSTICE he JUDGES and makes war. ...

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, 'Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.'" - Revelation 19:11;17-18

Note that Justice is a manner of Judging! The rider on the white horse is Jesus. He will do true Justice, and none of us will escape, unless we repent. Undoubtedly God will eventually correct me on my little rant about justice, because there is only one person capable of doing true justice. Woe to those of us who invoke Justice and Judge with corrupt and selfish motives.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

500mm Vivitar vs. 250mm Canon zoom lens ...

This is the first time it has been clear enough to see these windmills that I can remember from the top of Rose Peak. Using gmap-pedometer.com, it is 22 miles to these windmills. At this distance, colors and detail tend to wash out, so things are quite challenging for the lens. It should make it clear why the Vivitar lens is a bit frustrating.

Vivitar untouched.













Vivitar using color adjustment. There is definitely a variation from the center to the outside.












Canon untouched.













Canon with color adjustment.
Some pictures from Rose Peak using the ultra-zoom.





























Friday, March 12, 2010

Pondering time ...

Augustine:

"All the hours of night and day add up to twenty-four." - Confessions.XI.19

and

"Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light.'" - John 11:9

I was reading a long winded discussion of time by Augustine and was tuning out until hitting the statement about 24 hours in the day. This leaves me wondering how the hour was defined and from when the split into 12/24 was started. A modern scholar would be compelled to claim that the Jews believed that the time from sunrise to sunset always had a fixed amount of time! The wiki article asserts that this began with many ancient cultures, but doesn't provide any references. Just something to file away in case I run across similar items in other reading.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A few more with the Vivitar ultra-zoom lens.

They have a bit of color adjustment, but are uncropped. These are using ISO 800 with shutter at 1/500 to 1/2000. The Canon XSI is probably having a bit of image degradation at the ISO 800 setting, but this is necessary to avoid the lens motion.





























Swiss Researchers: For a successful marriage, the woman must be 27% smarter than the man.

This does seem to be related to the Biblical finding that a successful marriage is based on a woman being 27% more virtuous than a man:

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." - Proverbs 31:10-11

There is nothing in my own successful marriage to contradict this. This is a problem for smart guys, so we see that Einstein had a divorce and Newton never married. Darwin clearly wasn't intelligent because his marriage was successful. Looking at public figures, it is obvious who has the brains for Obama, ... and Clinton, ... and Bush. Reagan, was clearly a cut above the rest as far as intellect goes. As Bunc notes, creationists (i.e. religious wackos) are really dumb. A straight forward deduction from this is that a dumb religious male will have a good chance of finding a mate who is 27% smarter, thus, conservative religious types tend to have stable marriages, whereas smart liberal males don't do so well. What this research should make clear, however, is that a LGBT marriage can't possibly be successful.

Anyone out there have some anecdotes that might support or contradict this research?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vivitar 500mm mirror lens ...

This is a cheap (~$150) lens for zooming in to those far away things. A comparable prime lens cost about $5,000. Using this hand held is difficult, because any lens shake is amplified, forcing the shutter speed to be 1/500 or less. A consequence is that the lens can only be used on bright days, unless a heavy duty tripod is also brought along. Other issues are that only manual focus will work and there is no aperture control.

After today's experimentation, I will probably want to restrict the shutter speed to 1/1000 since there was still some non-focus related blur, or maybe I will try a tripod walking stick.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The University of Tennessee gives Al Gore an honorary doctorate ...

Disclaimer: I am a graduate of the University of Tennessee and grew up in East Tennessee. I voted against Al Gore when he was running for senator back around 1980 or so.

In case you are wondering, the picture isn't Al Gore. This is Dolly Parton, who grew up a few miles down the road from me. She is a singer and is one of the three people who have gotten honorary degrees from UT. The third is former Tennessee senator Howard Baker.

This does have me pondering other Tennessee greats. Admiral David Farragut is one of my favorites who gave the most famous words in naval history: "D%^& the torpedoes!" As a college student, I was a proud janitor at Farragut High School which was named after him.

The other East Tennessee great is David Crockett, who was the founder of the redneck movement and drew the ire of Alexis de Tocqueville, who was a famous writer and French aristocrat and - except for Davie - admired all things American.

Al Gore will certainly add to our proud heritage.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

"If you put a leash on me, I'm gonna call my lawyer."

Switzerland just had a vote on whether or not animals could get a lawyer and be represented in court. The vote failed, but 30% voted "yes". California will probably take up the cause next. Eventually I will be hit with a class action - genocide lawsuit from the bugs for fumigating my house!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Desperate times require desperate measures ...

Speaking of Pete Stark, he just gave me a call. Me and a large number of others for a "virtual town hall meeting"! I learned that he turned down the position on the House Ways and Means committee because he can only be chairman of one committee and he is already chair of the House Health Committee which is responsible for drafting the health deform plan. The meeting mostly covered the health fare discussions, but there was a little from home owners seeking foreclosure help.

What struck me is the desperation in the questioners voices as they gave their requests to Congressman Stark. Now I suppose if I had survived cancer, wasn't healthy enough to hold a job, and also can't get any health insurance, I would be rather desperate. In this case, the desperation is all about forcing the health insurance companies to grant the insurance - at the same rate as for the healthy. Pete also explained that it is mandatory that all citizens be forced to pay health insurance for this to work. The net effect is to create a backdoor tax on healthy workers to pay for the unhealthy, but without actually taxing and spending. If it goes through, it is doomed to make things worse because it does nothing about runaway bureaucracy and litigation which stifles health care. But then again, suicide is an act of desperation?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

California's no cussing law ...

As they say, what begins in California will spread to the rest of the nation ... and then to the world. The article gives some motivations for this, but leaves me wondering if this isn't part of the overall environmental cleanup mentality. As a bit of trivia, my local congressman, Pete Stark, who is also known for colorful language, is next in line to replace Charlie Wrangel as the head to the House Ways and Means committee. Will the new tax bills have language about taxing the "&$%#* rich"?

I tend to view this whole thing as discriminatory towards the poor and regressive. It is the poor in language who resort to cussing, whereas those who are verbally rich utilize more eloquent and effective ways to inflict psychological harm upon others via the aural senses. As for Christians, we have something else to ponder:

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." - Romans 12:14

So we are taught not to curse, but how do we do the opposite from our heart and bless our most bitter enemies?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A bit of the Grand Canyon?

This is from the airplane flying home on Sunday. The cloud cover meant only a few glimpses. I am still wanting to do the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run, but not this time. The flu is still lingering.
Marijuana Insurance Coverage ...

This looks like a workers compensation type insurance for the medical marijuana industry. What happens if a hospital employee gets in an accident while shuttling marijuana from the illegal farm that is placed on someone else's property? I am also wondering if there is any such thing as medical malpractice litigation in the medical marijuana industry ...