Saturday, November 13, 2010

co: On objecting to the Pledge of Allegiance in America

Kollapsnik at Club Orlov reminded us about November 7,the anniversary of the Stalin revolt in Russia that ended the sovereignty of the Czars, and rang in Communist rule.

One of the comments brought out a recent event, where a school student refused the class pledge of allegiance to the US and the flag - and the coach physically and verbally abused the student, attempting to twist the young person's arm into the expected hand-over-heart position.

I can see how someone might disagree with the boy's point of view and manner of protest but if this is supposed to be a free country, what is the point of trying to force him?

Another comment went on to object to the pledge itself.

. . Furthermore it's unconstitutional, as it includes a reference to "God," whereas the Constitution explicitly states that Congress shall pass no law respecting religion. The Pledge of Allegiance was rammed through during the 1950s and has no legitimate association with the Fourth of July, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence. Moreover that kind of compulsory group behavior is a violation of the spirit of all those things, in my opinion. So I'm against it.

For 15 years or so after WWII, the US faced an active threat from Russia, from infiltrating and local communist agents and activists, many with known membership in a Communist Party. The threat intended to escalate into an American version of the 1917 revolution where the Russian government was overthrown by Communist rebels against their government. Senator Joe McCarthy won a deservedly (in my opinion) tyrannical and corrupt reputation by riding that very real threat into a cartoonish reign of terror on Americans.

Part of the response to that threat from within and without, with anti-American activities being funded by Russia and other fronts, was the pledge of allegiance.

Most American Communists at that time were passionate and determined enough to openly despise the US Constitution and it's Constitutional form of government - they refused the pledge. So the pledge was seen as a test for citizenship, a public demonstration that community and leaders were indeed engaged in legitimate discourse and governance under local, state, and federal laws.

I think the flag was chosen as the symbol of adherence to the Constitution, because the battle flag has always been an important icon for the uniformed services. The flag plays the military role of identifying leadership, authority, and a visible reassurance that our side is still engaged, still battling or carrying on. The US grew from the Revolution and leaders recently experienced in that military conflict. In post-WWII America, millions of citizens had just recently been released from military service. The US flag was, and is, a powerful emblem and symbol of the nation, national leadership, and here in America, the Constitution that many public leaders and all military enlistees are required to swear an oath to defend, from enemies foreign and domestic. The flag as a symbol is a remembrance, and a reminder, that America was won on the battlefield, partly, and owes it’s continued existence, in part, to readiness to defend against armed aggression.

Anyone should be permitted to choose to refuse the pledge of allegiance; it should have to be a deliberate and sincerely considered refusal. Refusing the pledge should carry the consequences understood when the pledge was first imposed. No one that can conscientiously object to the pledge of allegiance should be allowed any position of civil, legal, military, or other civic responsibility or authority.

One of the basic strengths of America is adherence to the Constitution. From the President of the United States, to the gentlepeople collecting garbage for the city, every single person should be engaged in their assigned duties in a manner that defends and protects the Constitution of the United States.

Quarrels with individual laws aside from the Constitution, or with words, positions, or actions of any public office holder, are all legitimate defenses of the Constitution, and are part of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of each citizen of the United States. The onus to consider and choose what to support and what to oppose does not extend, in my opinion, to the US Constitution, the flag, or even to the pledge of allegiance.

Today the issue of Sharia law is a direct challenge to the Constitution in federal and state courts. Sharia law is to the Muslim, what the Ten Commandments are to Christian and Jewish faithful. They contradict the rights and responsibilities of citizens under the Constitution. Muslim beliefs of religious teachings superseding secular laws violate the Constitutional guarantees of separation of church and state. Harsh mutilation and stoning requirements under Sharia law violate freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Death to Islam non-believers violates guarantees against discrimination based on faith.

There are those that refuse the pledge of allegiance on the grounds that the pledge represents a secular kind of 'belief', almost a religious faith.

Those that do not believe that the Constitution is or should be the basis for laws common to all Americans must and should be tolerated. But the Constitution requires that leadership and laws and governing bodies adhere strictly to the Constitution, to not compromise the guarantees of citizenship, nor to exceed the limits imposed by the Constitution on governance in America.

Thus, I see the pledge as a check and a privilege of Constitutional citizenship, and a bare requirement for leadership and authority.

As to "God" in the pledge, the Constitution mandates separation of church and state, and adheres quite closely to actual faith in a divine Creator. Faith and church are two very different entities. Faith is a description of beliefs and truths that an individual incorporates in relating to that individual's concepts of divinity and that individual's relationship to that divinity.

Church, and other forms of organized religion, is an organization of people, often bound to each other by common faiths and beliefs. The US Constitution establishes that no church of any faith may over-rule the US Government, nor may they interfere with the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from the Constitution or Federal, state, or local laws. The Constitution also, importantly, protects citizens from churches and faiths, and actions by churches and faithful, that contradict the rights, protections, and responsibilities of secular (non-faith based) laws and regulations.

The Constitution prohibits the government from allowing or acting from a basis of faith or church. Individuals, including office holders, are expected to act within their own faith and beliefs, as long as those actions adhere to the protections and limits of the Constitution and subsequent laws.

That is, the Constitution both establishes the creation of our nation within the belief in God (an amorphous expression of Judeo-Christian faith), and protects the individual's right and responsibility to believe and worship as their conscience dictates. The limits on church and faith protect the rights of each and every American to believe as they understand their relationship to God and divinity.

At least, that is how I feel about it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Did Adobe just kill

OK, so the Natasha Bedingfield video (Pocket full of sunshine) I have been watching - and watching, etc., stopped working. They needed me to update to the latest Flash player.

So now I not only get to see Natasha, hear a reasonably good song - but I get to watch ads, too, ticker-taping across the blasted video.

Hurray for RIAA, etc.

Only - the ads detract from the reason I am there. If I want to watch ads, I would hie me to the blasted TV set, and, like, maybe plug in antennae for the first time in nine years. I might pull the spam and popup and script blockers off my browser and un-firewall my computer. I might for goodness' sake buy the local news (and ad) paper.

Hint, you folks at YouTube - newspapers and broadcast TV and cable TV put a lot of effort into getting those ads to throw at their viewers. Hint 2: Their business model is kinda spotty, with some doing well - and many not doing so well.

If I wanted to be paying RIAA for the music, I would consider paying for a CD or download *without restrictions, add-ons, ads, etc.*

Natasha - I am sure your video is still nice enough. I don't get enough out of it, though, to put up with ads on the video at the same time. Sorry. Have a nice career.

YouTube, Google - for shame. I kinda home you find a way to broadcast video without Adobe's ads. Else look for others to jump into the massive opening you created, for credible and useful alternatives.

Remember, kiddies. Patents and copyright laws were established by the US Congress and Constitution for a very important reason: To generate lots of ideas and creativity - and get those ideas and creativity into the public domain. Patents and copyrights were created to be a very limited period of protection for inventors and authors, to assure they got recognition (no one stole the idea) and a chance to profit from those ideas. Then, after a decent period, all those tunes and lyrics and poetry stanzas and books and papers and such - were to become public knowledge and a value to all the nation.

Words have power. Power to make people grow in useful and interesting ways, words can inflame passions, and unravel angers, words can soothe, and share an expression of beauty that enlarges the spirit. Words can also do other things - it is one of the obligations of a mature person to sort through the words, and make good use of what is good and fruitful.

And my word is that I am looking for something non-Adobe to read pdf files, and I for something else that shows Flash without the ads. I know I never wanted to do a Flash project, so none of my web design clients need worry, nor the visitors to their web sites.

And to the good folks at Adobe? I use the Photoshop Elements. And I still refer to every single Adobe product as "the Adobe Virus" - because starting up an Adobe application causes my computer to lock up, gasping, as if a virus attack had grabbed my computer, had stopped all my interfaces, and was busily erasing my computer's hard drive. The arrogance of the way Adobe software is installed and starts to run, abusing resources and my time, feels rude to me, and lacks respect. Yes, you bought Macromedia so you could do what you want with Flash. My hope is that you price yourself, and de-feature yourself, right out of the marketplace.

Friday, November 5, 2010

vftp: Lame duck Congress, FSA - S.510, and DADT

Tam at View From The Porch laments the damage this lame duck Congress - those folk with all the authority of their elected office, but with replacements with different agendas already selected - can do in their misdirected energy and bitter sense of loss. Tam lists some of the projected topics - and hopes they spend all the dwindling days of this Congress on DADT - the Clinton-era invention of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that stopped the military from assuring it's members were heterosexual, but clobbered anyone that was revealed to be . . different.

S.510 - So-called Food Safety Enhancement, and the FSA

We will have to watch this Congress. With Malice Aforethought - the Senate scheduled for this month - immediately after the election - S.510, the Food Safety Administration (Food Safety Enhancement Act or some such). The bill wants every farmer, trucker, farmers market, and truck farm listed and inspected by the feds - including mandated testing of foods and stuff that *could* be used in food for people *or animals*. S.510 includes the Fed capacity to shut down or outright confiscate anyone that botches the paperwork, fails an inspection, or fails to stick to Federally mandated practices to produce, transport, or store food or anything that could be a food component for people or for animals.

This will tap and hinder everyone that consumes food (like you and I) and everyone with contact with food - perhaps anyone selling at any Farmers market or roadside stand.

For those that think this sounds like increased food safety - recall that the existing laws prohibited that peanut butter incident from happening, and the Iowa egg thing, and didn't. Additional laws hamper the law abiding, without affecting the unscrupulous or ignorant. This also has the potential to put a lot of people right out of business that aren't using Monsanto based concepts - and expenses - of raising crops and livestock.

There are a ton of regulations required - but not written yet - in the bill, massive penalties, and it all rolls up into another brand-new bureaucracy, the Food Safety Administration.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Oh, please, please let them dither over DADT until the new batch get there. I served in the Navy some 30-35 years ago when women started serving in wider capacities. I heard most of the same arguments then about women as the military raises about gays. For the most part, most of us had little sexual contact with the others in our unit, and I doubt that will change. 'Way back then, when it was all guys (and the only dates discussed were female), there were some that preferred blondes, others with provocative clothes, or a habit of regular alcohol and frolicking about. Other than the hangovers, it didn't much affect the work. Sheesh. The military fears the gays mostly because they were taught to fear the gays. If they can learn to march in step, because they are told to, I expect most all can handle respecting the person next to them.

Even if the Army has to re-evaluate making skirts optional for both genders. Kilts didn't seem to hamper the Scots much.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

tae: EQ - inflation, or a trap for the prudent?

On the Automatic Earth,

- Ilargi describes how "QE", quantitative easing (Bernanke printing money will he, nil he) must create massive deposits - the $2 trillion and growing available money corporations are holding onto.
In her famous lecture A Century Of Challenges, The Automatic Earth's Stoneleigh uses the following image to explain what the liquidity trap is. The Fed can keep on pumping money, but it can't make it move. If you're fearful or uncertain, you will hold on to what you got, not spend it.

Stoneleigh compares it to "running your car with the oil light on". That is to say, the liquidity trap results in an economy without sufficient lubricant (credit, money) to run in a healthy fashion.

So - QE2 might be misunderstood economics, or a case of ignorant politics over-riding good sense.

But what if this is planned? If the bankrupting of the nation is intended to create a scenario when the citizens of the US cry out "Oh, save us, Barrack Hussein Obama!" And the man, and corrupt political machine behind him, nationalize all the industry, the commerce, and private institutions, to "save" the nation B. Hussein Obama has intended to "build" since he started?

Because the stage is nearly set. The players - the Organized Labor unions, the ACORN and other socialist forces, the armed DEA and Immigration forces that have been building, the nation divided into regional districts with headquarters and bases and leaders lined up. All bank records are now open to the feds, without warrants, so that no deposits or transactions can be concealed from the Feds, if the feds ever turn to the oversight and vilification of, say, soviet Russia.

Is this another wild conspiracy theory - or is there an actual, demonstrable, anti-Constitutional plan in play?

Pres. Obama practiced nationalizing GM and Chrysler, then the banks. Does that mean that the govt is ready to start nationalizing all savings (since they cleared the way to snatch 401k principal to buy mandatory ObamaCare insurance) and money not spent? Has this been Obama's long term "hope and change", his mantra about redistributing the wealth (which necessarily means stealing from someone)?? certainly expressed one concern about this coming election, that Obama would count what outcome he wants, and disregard actual ballots cast.

Then the news came out, that SEIU, the same government service union that posted thugs to interrupt "Town Hall" meetings between Obama rivals in Congress and the people that were outraged by Obama's policies - has the exclusive contract to operate all voting equipment in Nevada. And the machines have been biased to favor Harry Reid.

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Keep in mind, the Department of Just-Us has had to face criticism from Congress this fall - for an official, Presidential directive that forbids prosecuting any voting law violations - if the harmed voters are white.

Talk about inviting the fox into the hen house, or sending a chilling message to voters in America.

So - what is it to be? Default on the debt - or seize that pesky money prudent companies and individuals have been keeping from Obama's (deliberately damaged) economy?

Friday, September 24, 2010

An idiot at the Atlantic monthly

Michael Kinsley at TheAtlantic magazine, writes about the Baby Boomer generation and how they can make their mark in history. He pooh-poohs Joe Klein, writing in Time a year ago, for suggesting that legalizing marijuana would be a suitable mark.

So what do you give the country that has everything? You give it cash. The biggest peril Americans now face isn’t Islamo-fascism. It’s our own inability to live within our means. It would be nice to give our country the wisdom and self-discipline to stop running up the credit card. And we should try. But it’s unlikely that we can remake the national character (including our own) in 19 years. What we can do is offer a lecture and a fresh start. We should pass on to the next generation an America that’s free from debt.

What an idiotic thing to propose.

One would think that the need is for responsible money handling, which would have long-lasting impacts. Gifts, especially of cash, have the opposite effect.

Kinsley returns to the era of WWII and the Greatest Generation, and glosses over the massive use of mass media and deliberate government propaganda to manipulate a nation. This introduction to mass marketing became, after WWII, today's merchandising and marketing advertisement, and a consumerist culture who's bubble is bursting now with the current round of deflation. It is the lack of morals in advertising to create a perception of need in the target audience that most marks the legacy of the Greatest Generation that hinders today's world. Marketing designed to benefit makers of consumer products and consumer debt have little regard to endangering, as a nation, the discipline or values of the Baby Boomers.

The mark of the 1960's Boomers was the drop-out Hippie, in an age affluent enough that much of a generation could stop contributing to their own support and turn to drugs (crime) and indolence, without dying out completely. The Hippie movement ended as members were reabsorbed into a working - at the individual level - society. The mark of the Greatest Generation of the 1960s was a man on the moon, and Russian imperialism held at bay.

Bring home candy for the kids when you go to the grocery store. The next time you return home, what do the kids do? Right. Not greet you, but demand "their" candy. Kinsley's proposal to cash out the Boomers will merely give the next generation a free pass to continue living as if affluence were a virtue and a certainty - and guarantee the overspending continues but without an example of how to stop (which is to stop spending).

Death taxes or voluntary donations of estates result in money withdrawn from the economy, denied to heirs that might have been otherwise been ready to continue ongoing businesses and enterprises - like farmland. Snatching estates for government use rewards government spending (vote buying), while ruining lives for the people living on the ongoing business of living, related to that estate.

Lack of discipline is the problem, and gifts are not the answer.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tea Party, Communications, and Politics - and the Constitution

When the US was young, general communications were limited almost to gossip, hearsay, and the occasional traveler. Much of the course of the Revolution, and later the Civil War, were laid out with control of information, both among allies and used against opponents.

The telegraph, distributing information to media channels like newspaper and town meetings, began a change. Newspapers carried national politics and news within days of happening. Politicians began receiving letters and telegrams and other communications from a vastly wider cross section of their constituents - and the constituents started getting better insight into what their representatives were doing.

Since the 1960s TV and Radio increased the immediacy and intimacy of broadcast media, challenging the traditional newspapers for accuracy and respect. More people got involved, more special interest groups formed and applied pressure to Congress, the President, courts, and states. Easier communications redefined the role of the representative from acting on his own beliefs, to responding to imminent feedback from his district, often assumed to be the expression of the special interest groups and paid lobbyists.

Now the Internet starts to change the political landscape again. Peggy Noonan writes persuasively for the Wall Street Journal that there are two central reasons for the current prominence of the Tea Party: The clock and the Yardstick. The clock is counting up the cost of delaying drastic remedies to the current crisis of big government having overspent the nation. The yardstick is a measure of how far to the liberal, big government end of the stick so-called Republicans are playing to the liberal goals. The Tea Party is focused on dragging things back to the middle of that yardstick, and quickly.

Chris Anderson of the TED conferences waxed eloquent about Crowd Accelerated Innovation. His components for CAI are content, light, and desire. I might describe the Tea Party movement as substantive issues (content), exposure of deceit and offering plain, responsible remedies, and a real passion to accomplish the needed changes in time to reduce the impact of what has been going on for decades.

I think Chris' Crowd Accelerated Innovation explains how the Tea Party came to be so influential in such a relatively short time, how so many people got involved, how the course of the effort has steadied onto the biggest single factor that most of those interested can get behind - overspending by today's government. Other issues have less consensus, but fail to diminish the force of the movement. This also explains a popular movement without the traditional charismatic leader, though a few have tried to don that mantle. But claiming leadership of a minority to create status and power is an old-boy trick, and this new model of quick and reliable, viral communication exposes and disposes of chicanery, as quickly as it exposed the SEIU shills stuffing the early "town hall" meetings.

Where Peggy Noonan explains the impact of the Tea Party, and in part why the Republican Party establishment is afraid of, and unable to draw power and funds from, the Tea Party, it is Chris Anderson's Crowd Accelerated Innovation that explains why the Tea Party works so well.

The Democratic and Republican party leaderships are still founded on the days of controllable and restricted media of the mid-20th Century, as modified by the cheap energy era - and easy money - that blossomed so grandly for American from the 1950s through the early 2000s.

What brings the Tea Party to the fore now? The United States is called a "capitalist" nation. I had to look that up. Capitalism is a form of government that supports and encourages capitalists. That is, the wealthy, but especially those investing and managing capital investments for industry, commerce, and other kinds of production. Capitalists invest to create profits - jobs, goods, etc. And Capitalism encourages that. Because of the chances for abuse in an unregulated climate, there are a few necessary controls - monopolies and unfair business practices are punished, deceit and fraud are punished. But now we have a President that hates capitalism. In his haste to dismantle the economic basis of what used to be a wealthy nation, a nation that used to rebuild countries in the shape we are in today, he has made the US a second world power, inviting other nations to assert their own dominance in the world. And he continues to punish capitalists - the very people and organizations needed to restore any semblance of a sustainable economy.

Three other important issues highlight the crisis that the Tea Party addresses. Global Warming has been made an international bogey man. Whether or not the climate is changing or will change, the political impact has been felt. Whether or not the political infighting that has tainted any possibility of getting a definitive answer about causes and effects from the science community is moot at this point. The UN and certain factions in the Obama administration are using the argument to continue disrupting the US economy, punish the capitalists that frankly made the US the power it became for World War II, and would be required if any great national effort in the future were to succeed.

The next great issue is biting now. Sources differ, whether the peak oil production fell below world demand, on a day-by-day basis, in 2005 - or will in the next couple of years. Peak Oil means that the demand for oil is and will be forever, greater than the ability to produce oil. Yes, there are reserves of oil to last centuries. But it can no longer be produced at a rate to satisfy world demand today. The result is expected to be a gradual ratcheting up, with spikes of increased cost of energy alternating with relative easing of cost - as various economies retract under the strain, reducing demand. But each cycle will ratchet ever higher. The reasons are clear - existing fields are getting closer to empty, and the cost per barrel is increasing at the same time the amount produced per well is declining. One report shows Saudia Arabia needed $18 per barrel in 2000 to break even. That break even point was $68 per barrel in 2009. New finds are more difficult to get to, regulations and costs make getting that oil to market more expensive, and some of us see a profound change coming in how we look at energy. The promise of alternate energy is about as scientifically and economically compromised as the science behind global warming. Wind power generators are dependent on the wind blowing. Alternative sources have to be online and available when the wind stops, or maintenance needs to be done. The cost of wind energy is currently highly subsidized - it couldn't pay for itself on today's market without soaking up bunches of tax dollars. There are other options - wave and tide motors, geothermal and deep sea cold taps, variations on hydroelectric generators - but Washington keeps spending tax money on labor unions and banks that make a profit off the national debt. Reduce taxes, make business regulations relevant to the "land of the free" and the capitalists might be able to make something work.

To my own delight, the Tea Party is focused on the traditional US Constitution and Bill of Rights to restore responsibility in government, as the means to achieve responsible economic reform. Makes sense to me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TED - on Crowd Accelerated Inspiration

Chris Anderson curates the TED conference, which highlights important ideas.

Chris himself speaks on Crowd Accelerated Inspiration. Chris considers the three contributing factors - content, light or exposure (visibility or transparency, in today's PC dialect), and desire. He highlights the 6 year old dance whiz and other examples.

His point is that video has the potential to accelerate changes for the better. Better exposure means crowds can define what is "better". Desire to improve means that the crowd's measures of "better" can be used to target new efforts, and light on what is considered the best sets an ever-higher goal.

The USDA organized a series of county fairs some century ago or so, so that at harvest time farmers and ranchers could gather and compare produce and crops, and see what yields the best crop, costs the least, what controls erosion, what equipment works and what doesn't. Most of these state and county fairs still continue, though at most of them, the money from attendees has become the point, and little enough focus remains on what chicken breeds grow faster or lay eggs longer.

I think this is a excellent example of what Chris forsees for online video.

But I think Chris makes one glaring, overweening and unfair assumption. Chris sees the development of the best teachers and the best ideas, and disseminating them to everyone, is the same thing as immensely improving learning.

It isn't so.

Learning is about what information we master. What Chris' video-polishing will accomplish is to burnish and correct data. That is not the same thing as selecting, organizing, presenting those best ideas and videos in such a manner that any particular individual actually learns the material.

The successes in Chris' spotlight varied from the six year old dancer, to the urban gardening revolution in an slum. Let me suggest that the six year old dancer won't be impressed - or pay attention to - the burlap bag gardening or the slum conditions. And the videographer from the slum won't be studying dance moves from anyone.

No, merely improving the facts we wish to teach or to learn, won't necessarily make a big improvement in learning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I don't care who you are [. .]

[. .] that's not funny. shares a video cartoon, an animated projection of Margaret Gallagher approaching Peter at the Pearly Gates to Heaven.

Now, Heaven, Saint Peter, and marriage are all religious concepts and teachings, and none are universal. Death itself, is mostly universal, and secular as well as a matter of faith. Other than that, this piece is satire aimed at one specific point of fundamentalist Christian dogma - "defense of marriage".

I thought some of the most potent arguments got left out. The famed biblical "Wedding of Canaan" specifies that there is a wedding - a religious rite - and a groom and a bride. One would have to overlook the rest of the bible to assume that no other wives or brides might be present in that groom's household, and that none would join later. Because the bible clearly states that that marriage - a rite of the Jewish faith adopted by Christian churches - had a bride and a groom.

[Robert Frezza's "McLendon's Syndrome" immortalizes another aspect of that Biblical story, "reminded of the Wedding at Canaan. They served jug wine until someone important showed up."]

The critical fallacies I see in the argument about whether "marriage" is about one man and one woman joining in "holy" matrimony - is projecting the religious rite onto secular governance. In secular - non-religious - context, a marriage creates a legal entity that then exists aside from the adults that make it up. Any intimation or explicit formula for genders and roles of participants is essentially religious, or at most secular whim. Laws of the land ought not to embody on religious interpretation (as the early Mormons in their bloody trail of persecution and violent clashes with other Christians from New England to Utah). Whim should be changed immediately when it is recognized to be wrong or inconvenient.

The right answer is for the state and nation to repeal legislation regarding marriage, or as a minimum, revise all statues to recognize all marriage ceremonies performed by any recognized religious organization. The issue isn't just gender mix - there are families living today in a multiple-adult household, in a just and disciplined fashion, creating loving and supportive homes for themselves, their children, and acting as assets of their communities. The Muslim entering America with several wives - are we to rewrite all our marriage laws to accommodate whatever arrangements exist between such adults, to allow or forbid?

Then there is the criminal side. People want laws against sodomy and "unnatural" sex applied to others - but have stopped prosecuting or reporting for criminal prosecution acts of adultery, fornication, and for the most part, statutory rape. Abandonment of family is seen as grounds for divorce - seldom is anyone leaving their avowed responsibility actually arrested and prosecuted for *gasp* foreswearing them selves. You know - like perjury? When in court you swear to tell the truth, then get caught in a lie? You swear to take this adult to you to have and to hold (a witnessed oath, recorded in a cognizant court) - at least, until you change your mind? In such a society where "the family" is often twisted by lack of discipline and lack of respect - and outright violence, substance abuse - and communities are apathetic or blocked by court rulings from intervening - how is anyone served (except perhaps by publicity-seeking church activists?) attacking a household of disciplined, respectful, loving adults doing their best to raise their children?

Don't criticize the mote in someone else's eye, indeed, until you remove the splinter from your own.

Some activists in San Francisco, a few decades back, agitated to forbid lesbian couples from raising children - because the children couldn't thrive in such an environment. The school board commissioned a couple of studies, and found that on average the children in lesbian homes did better in school, were better adjusted and happier, than the average "couple" parented home could accomplish.

Hate is a four-letter word. The long and bloody history of the Christian Church has proven that hate is still a vicious, double-edged weapon.

A family should be defined as adults agreeing to form a household with the intention of nurturing each other and raising and nurturing progeny. If the point of coming together is *not* to raise children, then calling a couple or group a family doesn't make it one - whatever the gender mix.

At least that is the way I see it. Your view?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Obama - an invitation to the next world war

Arguably the single diplomatic blunder that invited conquerors to initiate two world wars - was appeasement. Tolerance of aggressive, deceitful and malicious opponents. By failing to confront aggression and hatred, the hateful - Nazi and imperialist Japan of the 1930s alike - perceived themselves in a position of overwhelming strength about to roll over inept puppets unwilling to defend themselves.

President Obama is following the "How To Create A World War" play book. Sec'y of State Clinton seems cut from the same cloth, disrespecting allies and "tolerating" avowed, stated enemies. One wonders at what point Harvard Law School failed to explain about "treason" and "grave harm to the state". I personally hold every member of the House of Representatives responsible for failing to criticize, censure, and even impeach the President - as is the obligation and responsibility of each - for any perceived excess of authority, abuse of office, or violation of law and the Constitution of the US. Such as interfering with the bankruptcy proceedings at GM. Such as failing to prosecute fully the "New Black Panther" and ACORN intimidation of voters, and fraudulent registration and voter influence practices. Etc.

Bill Whittle of PajamaMedia explains his view of the Victory Mosque the Muslims plan for Ground Zero in New York, to commemorate their heroes that drove the planes that brought down the World Trade Center.

When I enlisted in the US Navy, I was required to list a religion. At that time, Federal Law recognized any belief that did not embrace the violent (extra-legal) overthrow of the US Government. Like Islam, with its stated agenda to kill all non-believers, and destroy all that aren't Muslim. Where is B. Hussein Obama's understanding of that part of US Law?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

AmericaGirl - Presidential snark

Day By Day ( is fun to read; I pick it up with my Bloglines RSS reader.

Today is again a pointed snark at President B. Hussein Obama - pitting his spending and regulating spree firmly against the US Constitution, against American values, and against the will of (at least some) of the people.

Filed under "Arrogance and Elitism", please check out America Girl today.

Thank you, Chris Muir.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A cruel snipe at global warming

Ann Coulter takes umbrage at Human Events, at Vice President Cheney's request for a list of lawyers at the US Department of Justice that have defended detainees at the terrorist camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

One snipe at the ethics of lawyers in general takes an environmental swerve.
Defending terrorists gives status-conscious attorneys a chance to get standing ovations at the annual ABA convention -- much like promoting "global warming" makes climatologists feel like they're saving the world, rather than studying water vapor.

As Larry the Cable Guy would say, "That's funny, I don't care who you are." At least, I found the slighting of climatologists so distorted, so absurdly trivializing, that regardless of what is happening - or not - with climate change, this is high comedy.

I think Ms. Coulter's hilarity aside, though, that there is still room for honest doubt about climate, climate science, and the politics of climate science. And about global warming. "Neither a denier nor a warmer be, for a denier will be called psychotic, and a warmer wants to tax you to offset carbon in the air." Or something.

The UN, and the US Government, have known about racial cleansing, corruption, and repeated massacres in Africa. They have known about civil rights violations in South America, drug cartels and terror activities around the world, immense poverty around the world - so, why is it now that I believe the UN, with it's history of corruption, and the US, with it's history of politics overcoming truth, that they know anything useful about the environment?

Hint: I learned that "We are from the government, and we're here to help" is but one of a list of three biggest lies in life.

But Ann Coulter did have one snide and funny snipe.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

tc: Assumed, infinitely expanding affluence - and commercialism

Rob writes at Transition Culture on Frank Field Tells It How It Is: “This Mega Debt Crisis Which Threatens Our Very Existence”

In commenting on the (excellent!) article, a couple of observations came to mind.

My comment about affluence and the poor is the artificial way welfare payments usually perpetuate an illusion of affluence – of continuing the pre-packaged, individual dwelling, individual transport lifestyle of the upper middle class. It doesn’t work for those receiving welfare, but it doesn’t help people achieve an independent, community-involved, secure way of life, either. What welfare does do for recipients and others pursuing the “looks like affluent” lifestyle is to perpetuate a demand for the high energy products and structure of living that keeps the world rooted in huge demands for oil.

I am trying to understand how there can be people in the past, such as pioneers and peasants, that could live lives from atrocious and fraught with insecurity – to comfortable – without oil and high energy products. Yet we aren’t trying to learn much, or involve today’s very poor, in breaking away from Government Minimum Standards.

Humankind survived and persisted to grow into out modern society – often with large families in single room dwellings. Yet today we are guilty of child abuse for putting three children in too small a bed room, and heaven forbid pubescent children should share a bed room with siblings or parents. Is this morality, or encapsulated conspicuous consumption?

Throughout history the elite have chosen attitudes and displays of wealth, often uncomfortable or requiring multiple assistants to dress or conduct their business of the day. How many of our attitudes must we challenge for sustainable energy suitability?

A part of my concern is to identify the directions for discretionary spending that those that have resources use. Where that spending is directed to sustainable choices is fine, and needs to be identified and encourage. But it seems most of the worst, failing supports of today's mindset occurs where better choices could be made - discretionary spending. It doesn't take a lot of extra assets to borrow for a car, to buy a home miles and miles from work, to buy into the hype about needing to redecorate the living room for appearances. Buying new cars (with the mining, transportation, manufacturing energy required, disposal of the old vehicle, etc.) cannot be the answer to reducing energy expended on long commutes from bedroom communities to big industrial and office employment centers. Transforming corridors through the countryside and villages and cities, building out the infrastructure and equipment for rail or light rail - which I haven't seen many proposals for mule pulled or wood burning options - or using buses on existing street, still perpetuate the myth that only central, massive employment centers make sense. For today's concentrated wealth paradigm. I do *not* understand that antipathy to "big box stores", and not an anger at the zoning support and underlying assumptions of the big employer, where the assumption is to commute long distances - because the employment is fickle and changes rapidly.

Any entity that assumes a customer/employee base from further than a healthy walking distance, perhaps 1-2 km, should be examined. And challenged.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

tar: Efficiency, and economic decline

John Michael Greer writes the Archdruid Report. Last week Mr. Greer wrote on a continuing topic, descent of the United States and the rest of the world to "Third World" economy and lifestyle, Why Factories Aren't Efficient. Only his picture isn't bleak for the citizenry, only the industrial magnates.

After describing "efficiency" as defined by putting more (or less) money in someone's pocket, I smiled when I read the setup for Imaginaria. "You are the president of the newly independent Republic of Imaginaria. You’ve got a population that’s not particularly well fed, clothed, and housed, and a fairly high unemployment rate.

Unemployment, huh? I like Sharon Astyk's terms of formal and informal economy. The formal economy is the economist playground, the Gross National Product kind of thing - someone making a monetary profit.

I think the term "unemployment" has been perverted to mean "not contributing to the formal economy; not putting profit in someone's pocket." I would think that description especially pertinent when talking about re-localizing crafts and production.

There is a difference between those unemployed as in not being employed, not producing anything or serving anyone, and those not employed at putting profit in someone's pocket. Many of the unemployed are still serving, at household tasks and parenting tasks, some at day work and unreported income efforts.

What you apparently propose is to permanently remove the bulk of people currently working to put profit into someone's pocket from the industrial workforce, to serve their community and family in efforts with meaning, directly, only at the local level. Huh. I bet that does irritate some Organized union leaders, political fund raisers, and transcontinental trucking operations.

I kind of like the way Leo Frankowski reinvented technology in his sf "Cross Time Engineer" novels - including horse and mule-drawn rail, reliance on steam power and wind, and even working within a feudal political system.

My own notion of perpetual motion is a hydroelectric generator that requires 2 feet of water head. Installed every hundred yards in minor rivers, requiring no major damming or ponding, in sizes down to seasonal farm creeks.

Reading about your concerns over ethanol - has anyone worked toward solar-heated steam or water sources of mechanical or electric - or even compressed air or gas - energy options? Or hydro-mechanical (like the quaint songs about "the old mill stream"). It worked once, after all. The wood to build the wheel and races, that can be hacked out. With tools and skill.

I can see where the current "fad" in heritage seeds and seed saving contribute to Schumacher style utilization of resources. Also the victory garden approach to diversifying reliance on transcontinental food production and distribution.

ar: Economic Decline, security - the rise of Imperialism?

Sharon Astyk at Casaubon's Book mentioned an astute gentleman, John Michael Greer, who writes the Archdruid Report. Today Mr. Greer writes on a continuing topic, descent of the United States and the rest of the world to "Third World" economy and lifestyle. Only his picture isn't bleak for the citizenry, only the industrial magnates.

One issue that flows, for me, from Greer's reference to Gandhi's economics and Schumachers, is national security.

One aspect of declining fortunes of the GNP type bothers me. National security. Larger nations are attacked relatively less often, because they field bigger armies. When the Gandhi plan, though, the reduction in centralizing monetary resources implies more difficulty in maintaining a national defense. We have the Interstate Highway system with a defense shield for a symbol, because in his Army days Dwight Eisenhower formulated a response to the need for moving people and material to meet security needs.

Militaries are energy profligate. Energy, and especially oil, was a central strategic barrier and goal of all parties in WWII. I expect no less, militarily, as supplies of oil dwindle. Hungry people are ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous wealth. I might posit that the decline of the British Empire was brougth about by the rise of cheap energy. It follows then - what prevents the decline of cheap energy from reverting to an imperial form, merely to control security by taking direct control over distance threats? Today's industrial concentration of wealth provides monetary levers to collectively manage adventurers and despots. But what happens as those levers fail?

Wars are fought to put money in someone's pockets. Today, cheap energy fuels potent militaries that make battle inefficient, even among relatively smaller antagonists. When expensive energy again makes war profitable, what means, other than assimilation - empire - will provide security from external threat?

Monday, February 22, 2010

cb: Life with Food Stamps

Sharon writes about "Life with Food Stamps as your only income," on Casaubon's Book.

Sharon shares part of a story of Eva, struggling in Harford, Conn. The comments vastly exceed the story in trite and thoughtful responses. One issue that came up was fat-cat bailouts, vs. social support programs.

I don't see fat-cat bailouts as solving problems. A business either succeeds, or someone else should have a chance. But we *have* to have the wealthy, the successful, and those that have proven by their own efforts that their investments result in assets being produced and jobs created and preserved.

Right now, the US seems embedded in a belief in "being your own rich man". Own or rent your own home, have all your luxuries from private bath to private kitchen and laundry, from private car to private entertainment - or you aren't keeping up with the Joneses. Conspicuous consumption is the real failing that Eva suffers. And trying to compete with her community in conspicuous consumption isn't finding her a way out of her dilemma.

In 1974 the US Navy was putting up an experimental barracks design, at Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago. Four shared bedrooms shared a common area and kitchen area. I don't see Hartford or other communities looking to reduce the cost of housing for people by creating variations on shared facilities, on the old time boarding house, etc. And I don't see that happening any time soon. Subsidies for housing and living, today, reward the "single family dwelling" myth investors - landlords and builders. People are reluctant to consider multi-generational or extended family dwellings.

Changing building codes, to enable and support multi-family dwellings, would be an important start.

Maybe certify neighborhood educators, to enable teaching neighbors for their GED, outside the formal economy. Learning doesn't take place in schools because the school has a license; learning takes place because a teacher and student come together.

Eva wants nothing to do with her daugther's father. The community began failing Eva, when children are raised in the community, that aren't suitable to be parents and mates. Every unsuitable adult is a weakness and threat to the community.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Found - place to dump US nuclear waste. Not.

OK, so the NRN cartoon is funny - B. Hussein Obama closes the Yucca Mt. dump for the nation's nuclear waste - building for what, 20, 30 years?

The cartoonist laments a need for a useless place that no one will care if the stuff gets dumped there - a worker is in place to use the US Capital building, implying the less than useful halls of government might as well be put to constructive use.

Ha, ha.

The reality is that there is heat - energy - left in "spent" nuclear reactor fuel. Plus, the by-products and such might make B. Hussein some real good friends. Like in Iran and Venezuela. Today, it isn't commercially viable to recover useful material - why recycle, after all? - it costs more than it will produce. Much like recycling plastic and aluminum, and paper. And regulations might be prohibitive, too.

But that isn't to say that B. Hussein might not see the advantage of getting all of that nuclear material to someone that would appreciate it. He has to be thinking of his retirement nest egg, after all.

Friday, February 12, 2010

ar: Why Americans don't contribute to communities

John Michael Greer writes about "This Presupposition of Passivity" in his Archdruid's Report.

Greer argues that community isn't being taken from Americans, that Americans walked away from the concept of a cooperative, supportive community. He gives that as the reason Americans talk about organizing communities to prepare for an economic upheaval as the forces of history - dissolution of the stuctures keep an elite minority in power - and peak oil combine to move America down the road to becomeing a Third World nation, not even necessarily a Third World Power.

Some thoughts on what happened, to take people out of community. The same pressures and events also took farm kids and rural town children away from their homes, their families, and communities.

I think that forming a family, that is adults coming together to share lives and fortunes, is an act of culture, an atom of culture. The determination of what is right and expected, the selection of traditions and rituals, are unique to the family. If the family members respect their parent families, they will draw on and honor those cultures. Likewise, if they respect and honor their community, they will incorporate from there as well. If they respect their parent cultures, they will also be drawn to procreate, to express their respect and honor by passing their culture, their ethics, traditions, and rituals, onto the next generation.

It is the culture of the families that come together, to make up the culture of the community, and of the extended family. I don’t think you can have real community without the generational span of family as an atomic, key parameter. Without adding members, no community is sustained for long. The community must manage assimilating new members, whether raising children or indoctrinating adoptees.

The challenge of community in America stems from consumerism in marketing and governance, and liberalism/indoctrination in the schools. Americans didn’t just walk away from communities. For generations we have been giving our children away.

You cannot give your child to the state or the nation to learn ethics, and expect to get them back to build family and community. It won't happen.

I have seen children engaged in Transition projects, but not a direct description of taking charge of their children's education. This simple fact, incorporating community into education of the young, I think, is a big part of the durability of Quaker and Amish communities. The information given isn't the biggest part of the problem, the problem is the filters that either denigrate all family and community ethics in favor of government agendas, as against the private school's opportunity to indoctrinate children in the community culture.

After WWII, veterans were greeted with a variety of opportunities. Industry had expanded, and new openings were easy to develop for the returning GI. Communities still demanded adults marry. Communities understood and acted on a need to assimilate those within its bounds. Thus, GIs found jobs, and wives, and families, and community strengths were maintained.

Vietnam saw a general turmoil, where distrust of the government at all levels from community draft boards to the office of the President of the United States (When LBJ admitted not knowing what to do about Vietnam). Vietnam vets were *blamed* for serving a war they were drafted to fight – and ostracized. The nation was taught a strict lesson by those hating, spitting, flower-wielding long-haired hippies on TV - that serving the community or nation was hateful, something only cowards did. And communities were less active, in assimilating and accommodating returning vets.

Honoring service in the military hasn't been a national priority since. Many communities never recovered from the antagonism to local draft boards. Not to mention lingering antipathy from the friends and children of those hippies.

There were many pressures created since the 1950's to focus Americans on individual aspirations, to the exclusion of the community. One was the nationalization of education that now included desegregation and affirmative action in race relations - and a whole host of other individualist, liberal agenda items. Another was marketing, the whole "keeping up with the Joneses" thing introduced an element of actively striving against members of the community. Businesses hired individuals, often from across the nation. This pulled people from their community, then plunked them down in new-built "housing developments" without the resources to *be* a community, just a collection of houses.

At one time, communities invested heavily in families and, probably, Christian, behavior. That has been coming unraveled since the 1950's explosion of "Everyone to college, for fun and (bed) games" to all classes of Americans. Even before the "summer of love" (there seemed to be a lot more sex than love) and women's liberation challenged the notion of family, let alone community.

Any attempt to plan for the future is going to have to take the children away from the Federal Government, as a first step. Whatever else is planned, stopping the indoctrination of our children to be ambition-drive drones, irreverent of their parent's faith and culture - that has to come first, or there will be no one to come after the "community".

Thursday, February 11, 2010

w: I am cynical about fixing Haiti has an article on fixing Haiti, including redefining their social structure - single class of people - and taking everyone's needs into account.

The idiots.

It sounds good on paper. Just like "fixing" Iraq sounded good - get the horrible Saddam Hussein out of the road, tear down that awful oppressive government, and everyone will grow daisies and live peacefully and happily.

Haiti has lived nearly lawless. Drugs move through Haiti, the government runs on flows of money, official and otherwise, and not on equality or service to citizens. Protection and serving the needs of the privileged and powerful is the rule of government down there. The religion lends itself to random violence, not peaceful coexistence.

The US and other helping providers have stirred a *lot* of resentment. Hungry people, people without shelter, people that listened to loved ones die because no one got there to dig out their crushed building in time. Just the sight and thought of the vast amounts of wealth pouring into Haiti now - has to anger a *lot* of people, that there was so much wealth in the world that *could* have been shared before the earthquake, but was held onto by richer folk than they.

The cynic in me thinks that what Haiti really needs right now is a strong hand. A vested interest to take charge, grab the rescue goods and kick the do-gooders the hell out. Assign work and tasks to everyone and their dog, enforce their commands, and *do* something. One of the old time Railroad robber barons comes to mind. A Monsanto, an Archer Daniels-Midland. A Chavez or Castro would get more people sheltered, fed, and moving on faster than waiting for the UN and some coalition of charity organizations to get around to getting the people of Haiti involved with living the next weeks and months and years.

Perhaps it is as simple as stepping back and letting the oppressive military and gang organizations have a free hand for a while. Because frankly, I don't see the anger that survived the rubble turning to civilization for very much, any time soon.

One report suggests organizing a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to institute a training center or three, to train 25 to 35 Haitians and others from around the world to raise food in a permaculture manner. The outsiders would pay a hefty fee to join the training and internship to finance the operation, so a few Haitians could learn to raise food in a non-Monsanto chemical based form of agriculture. Permaculture, as I understand it, emphasizes continuous fertility and increased food production without relying on outside chemicals and soil amendments, much.

The thought is nice, for the long term, and seems like a great idea somewhere down the road. But growing food in the back yard? When you don't have physical security, the expectation that gangs and neighbors don't raid each other, that seems a "generous" kind of donation to the neighborhood, and not a way to feed yourself and your family.

Some few Haitians are probably organizing and trying to get back to life as they knew it. Convincing them that they should instead do something different, that foreigners tell them, "trust us", that won't pay off for six weeks or four months, and they will be subject to gangs - or the army - swiping everything of value, again, all that time.

I am just cynical. I want to see Haitians, or some other strong vested interest, rebuild Haiti.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

w: BAS at 100 years - a matter of National Security

Call me ignorant. I believe the versions I learned in school before the recent decades of history revisionism (rewriting what is known about what happened in the past, usually to suit someone's purpose today. You know, like Al Gore's "I invented the Internet.")

That public schools were created in the first place to achieve a universal, necessary minimum ability to participate in a Democratically organized government. Basic citizenship skills were all that schools were tasked with - until graduation from eighth grade, or age sixteen (16), whichever happened first. Sixteen (16) was the age of majority - adult responsibility under the law - and age of consent (for marriage and other sexual acts).

That school competitive sports were organized, team sports, that is, to prepare young men for the battlefield. The concept of team organization, of captains on the field being coached by someone responsible for game strategy. Huh, who would have thought this would prepare young people for basic training, with a Sargeant or Petty Officer guiding and working the group, under the orders of officers?

And that the Boy Scouts were organized for the same purpose. The need of the military for mentally agile, prepared people familiar with living outside the usual society, has not diminished. GeekDads writer Dave Banks writes about "After 100 Years, Are Boy Scouts Still Relevant?".

Banks covers the usual, the camping, the guidance, the criticisms over national policy - strict Judeo-Christian beliefs (although not strictly enforced at the local level), strict bias against gays (although not strictly envforced outside the national staff) - and using public facilities at reduced or no cost, from church meeting rooms to recruiting in public schools to extraordinary (though proven useful to all) access to national parks. He talks about friendships and relationships with family, and the prominence of past Boy Scouts.

But he overlooked something important.

The way Boy Scouts prepare citizens for military service. Banks quotes several numbers and statistics - but not how many enlisting service people have been in the Scouting program, nor how they fare in the military. If I recall correctly - Scouts tend to do well, for themselves and for our nation.

In times of emergency, having a core number of people thinking about community resources, about group tactics and looking ahead to the next step in survival - whether after storm, or flood, riot or other forms of unrest - can help a lot of people survive the experience, and recover their lives faster.

In short, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other programs that prepare young people for service to community and country. If we care to pay for public education, for military defense of the nation, and a salary for the President, it only makes sense that we continue to encourage and support scouting programs.

Scouting, after all, takes its name from the military task of investigating the near or extended area for surprises, in advance of movement of a unit. It has become a synonym for people that customarily do tough and thankless jobs. There was a time that "Scout" was a common, and revered, dog's name. Scout is a nickname always bestowed as a term of respect.

I think Dave Banks wrote a sorry piece of article, leaving out measurements of the health of communities where Boy Scouts are active, vs. places that have banned or no longer enjoy a significant Scout presence - and what the profile of the community looks like five (5), ten (10), and twenty (20) years after Boy Scouts wither in their community.

Businesses grow by the accumulation of wealth. Communities grow with children and newcomers, as they assimilate and acculturate each other. Scouts get short shrift on an economic scale. For getting to know, honor, and promote the community and its citizens, I know which I think promotes stability, resilience, and strength.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

w, nrdc: Idiots think mass transit wards off mortgage foreclosures. is carrying a story put out by the National Resource Defense Council (golly, that recalls the fictitional "Global Defense Council" eco group from the movie "An American President"), finding that there were fewer mortgage foreclosures in (.pdf file) "compact" neighborhoods with mass transit nearby. The conclusion - living where you depend on your car makes foreclosure more likely, and mass transit wards off foreclosure.

What idiots.

Foreclosures happen because people have been convinced to live in debt. Expect a 25 or 30 year mortgage - anything else and you are wasting your money. Hah.

Where do you find mass transit - mass transit that works, that serves the community, that doesn't exist solely on subsidies? Mass transit works when there are a lot of places to go, right next to the station. Travel from high rise apartments to high rise offices? Check. Travel from massive suburban parking lots to high rise offices? Check.

Now look at new housing developments. They build out in the boonies, often dismantling regular gridded street patterns (at least they did, regularly, in Arizona. I lost home owner insurance, because the response time from the nearest fire station changed when they remade a 50 MPH section line road into 25 MPH, curved, inside-the-development-fence, narrow residential cul-de-sac lined capillary road system.) Housing developments that it may take residents 10-15 minutes to go from one side to the other (about 1-2 miles). Housing developments selling to people barely able to afford the mortgage, then sold on "upgrades".

I bet the damned study didn't take into account whether the mortgage foreclosures had anything to do with first mortgages or houses bought from developers. I bet the study didn't compare ratio of mortgaged residences to non-mortgaged residences (as in, it might make a difference if the community was stable, and actually had enough amenities to make living there worth while).

I bet the study didn't take into account the amount of time it took the average wage earner to commute to work each day, or the distance involved.

I bet the study didn't take into account the percentage of the mortgage to the selling price, in an effect on foreclosures. Or whether the community was "distressed".

People interested in Suburbia or housing developments - or buying a house deliberately away from mass transit for less traffic and exposure to undesirables - are often fascinated by status symbols. Including forming a family with someone on the basis of their status symbol value, rather than discipline, integrity, and an aptitude and drive to form a family and interact with the community as a family (housing developments seldom develop much of a real community, in the sense of regular, daily personal interactions as in RFD Mayberry).

Mass transit doesn't ward off mortgage foreclosures.

People interested in being part of a community, picking an intimate partner to be a life-mate and co-parent, people connected to extended family and neighbors - that kind of people won't often put themselves in high-risk situations like the dreamers and Upwardly Mobile crowd.

The difference between high rates of foreclosure and mass transit neighborhoods is nothing less than leveraged consumerism. The foreclosure neighborhoods have it, the mass transit neighborhoods have learned to live (better) without it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

dn: End of America's quest for Outer Space

Brian Williams reflects on his disappointment at the State of the Union Address, about the end of the US Space Program.

I have to say, my first reaction is that this makes sense. The ghetto thug worries about walling up his neighborhood, keeping the fuzz and rival gangs out.

When America tried that, after WWI, it was called the Monroe Doctrine. That is, we don't interfere overseas, and other nations won't bother us. This is the flip side of the "appeasement" strategy, which tends to encourage hostile enemies. The US Monroe Doctrine is considered to be a primary factor leading to the loss of US ships (like the passenger liner Lusitania, sunk off the Atlantic Coast by German U-Boats) and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. To be blunt - keeping our interests and troops at home bought us WWII.

Space Race

First, an apology for the "Outer Space" term. That may have been in vogue at one time, but that was before I was aware. Hollywood movies have used the term, and science fiction writers. As far as I know, about the earth the atmosphere - the air - gets very, very thin, to the point that it doesn't act much like air anymore. That is where "Low Earth Orbit" begins. Farther out the speed to remain in orbit will keep you steadily hovering directly above one single spot on earth, about 22,000 miles. We have intelligence and communications satellites there. There is room for a lot of them - an orbit at that height would be about two * pi * 22,000 miles (2 * 3.1415926 * 22,000 = 138,320 miles), all of that orbit at the same height above the earth. And, yes, I know I used an approximately correct value for pi, and for the height of a geocentric orbit.

The moon orbits the earth. The distance varies a little bit, somewhere around 239,000 miles, I think. The United States has sent spaceships to photograph, and astronauts to view, the backside of the moon (since the moon rotates so the same "face" stays turned toward the earth, approximately). There weren't a lot of surprises back there, but it is worth knowing even that much.

The US government, and science fiction writers and economists and cultists and many others have had designs and plans for living and working on the moon. Just one for-instance something killed off all the dinosaurs long ago. A similar catastrophic event may be due - wouldn't it be nice to think your children would outlive - and possibly be ready to assist in recovery - if something like that should happen again?

We used the moon, once, to communicate. I am not sure if we still do it today. One way is to aim a radio signal at the moon. When it hits, part of it will bounce back toward the Earth. You reply the same way. Now, someone else might be able to pick up one or both signals - but never be able to tell where the other sender is. Science experiments have beamed radar and lasers at the moon, garnering information about distances and the nature of the universe.

People have gotten wealthy selling the rocks brought back from the moon. And also rocks said to have come from the moon.

The story goes that high powered radar - the really big ones - kill. Walk in front of one in operation, and it is like being dropped into the center of a huge microwave. So, one day this engineer, working on a smaller radar, walks through the transmitted beam - and notices that the candy bar in his pocket melts right away. Today we call this the microwave.

Vacuum tubes, the ancestors of television CRT picture tubes - remember the ones that were deeper behind than they were wide? - were difficult to make work when things start shaking. The way airplanes, rockets, and space ships do while in the atmosphere, and occasionally even when outside the atmosphere if the rocket motors are pushing hard. So research turned out the transistor. Then the integrated circuit, when the number of transistors, and hand-soldered wires, were too big for the space and weight available. The transistor is directly a child of the space race.

In 1960 there were lots of mechanics to fix cars and farm tractors. Lots of people worked on trains, or farms.

Research to support the space effort showed us how to prepare food better, to freeze dry orange juice (Tang, before they started putting artificial sweetener into it). Many medical problems were discovered and solved in keeping people healthy in space, and in learning to detect when things go wrong. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, if not millions, live longer today because of science discovered in the quest for space.

And America, in 1960, had far fewer PhD and other college degrees per hundred thousand. Severely handicapped Americans, and their families, owe a lot to education and medicine developed to put a man on the moon, and since.

Conceding the space race

What do you call it, when in the face of armed and hostile enemies, you unilaterally throw down your weapons and refuse to defend your home and those that count on you?

That is what B. Hussein Obama is doing. Granted, the US Space Program has been running in place for decades, since Jimmy Carter (who served as an officer in the US Nuclear Navy, and never learned to pronounce nuclear correctly - it is 'nuh-clee-er'm and *not* 'nuh-kyoo-ler') and the mid 1970's. Advances and achievements have been linear and incremental. Congress and Presidents robbed NASA for money for other projects. So, no, there hasn't been a lot to show from space this year, or last year, either.

So - are we ready to build those walls, stop watching and defending against those that preach death of America and Americans or attack Americans abroad? Are we ready to invite WWIII?

Because many Americans will have (some) food to eat this year. A billion people around the world won't have enough food this year. America owes a lot of money to many nations around the world - they will not be impressed that America now says "don't bother us." India, for one example, has more honor students in high school, than America has students.

Are we done?

Are we ready to declare that sending US astronauts, and serving military men(!) at that, to the moon, is all we need to learn about space? That there is nothing for science or industry or psychology or medicine or electronics or physics or agriculture or air conditioning or energy or long-for-goodness'-sake-distance internet operation? That we want to, forever more, buy any useful information to come from the quest for space?

Because India, China, Russia, France and the European Union and others, they aren't backing down. They are pursuing manned space flight as well as automated projects. They are pursuing killer satellites and ways to live between planets and on Mars and the Moon. They are gearing up to mine and exploit asteroids, to set precedent and allegiance of locations off-earth.

As a nation we may have no desire to claim the moon as our own, kill-you-if-you-trespass (or maybe tax you) territory - but are we ready for anyone else to tell us "keep out"?

When the US engaged in the space race, back in the 1960's and 1970', the sheer adventure of the concept drew the best minds from around the globe. "Brain drain" from other nations became a foreign policy issue. Are we ready to watch the best scientists, the most imaginative, the ones most likely to be involved in occupying that "final frontier" - find solace in leaving America for places the thugs aren't walling up the 'hood?

The continued push for manned space flight, for establishing viable colonies in orbit and on the Moon and Mars, mining mineral-rich - and less concern about polluting aquifers and air - asteroids, is not a budget issue.

It is a matter of meeting responsibility. Unlike the coward that takes it on himself to unilaterally disarm in the face of an armed and hostile enemy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

nrn, we: Dishonor of MainStreamMedia, or unfair expectation?

Net Right Nation reports an editorial in today's Washington Examiner. The story lists what happens with local governments, how the press reports "executive sessions" behind closed doors with big money interests. And the Washington Examiner criticizes the national mainstream media for allowing Reid/Pelosi/Obama to take personal, secret control of writing ObamaCare.

The press isn't reporting the secret meetings, or the process used to reconcile the bills. See, the House version of health care takeover passed. Then the Senate wrote a bill loosely based on that House version, all taking into account potential benefits for national labor unions and existing money interests. Then Reid started paying off Senators to bribe them into voting for the result.

The Story

Congress, until now, used to form a Conference Committee with representatives from the House of Representatives and the Senate, and work through differences between two versions of bills. Meetings would be bipartisan, the needs and interests of supporters and critics alike would, more or less, be respected. The Conference Committee, then, under a Constitutional form of government such as the US had before the Obama non-inauguration, a merged compromise between the two versions would be reported out, and that report bill would be voted again by each house, to assure that the result was approved by both houses, then be sent to the President for signing or passing into law - or return to the Congress.

Only, Obama doesn't care for the public scrutiny or lack of control that turning the two versions over to a Conference Committee might risk. Senator Reid, especially, cannot allow a compromise bill to undue any of the graft and kickbacks added on to placate various Senators - that might lose a vote or two that might not get the report bill passed.

And we all know how badly organized . . um, labor, takes disappointment. Pelosi and Reid, and Obama, are too worried to allow the law to take it's Constitutional course.

So, that is the story.

The Problem

The problem, aside from violations of the US Constitution, is that major media reporters and organizations aren't reporting this corruption of established procedure. They aren't agitating for adherence to the promises each of the triumvirate made, about having a free and open government.

The Washington Examiner editorial and Net Right News make that point - that instead of the howling and accusations at abuses during the Bush years, the reporting seems to quietly accept payoffs and backroom dealings on the first grand expansion of the federal government this year. (Wait for the Food Safety Organization bill, the NAIS program to kick in, and wait for labor unions to win the rest of their payoffs for swinging the 2008 elections.)

Business assignments, vs. obeying the law

The Washington Examiner points out the requirements that professionalism and the nature of the task assigned to reporters covering the US Government. Except their assignment and responsibility is a matter of business practice. News organizations exist to make money, either directly for their parent media company, or as a loss leader. Stories are dropped, trimmed, edited, and reinvented based primarily on what will "sell" - first to the editor, then to the publisher, and last to the public

It is Obama, and Reid and Pelosi, that swore and oath, and oath that defines their legal status, authority, and responsibilities. They each swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and swore furthermore to execute the office to which they were elected/selected according to the definition of that office in the Constitution and in published regulations.

That doesn't seem to bother any of them, that they abuse their oath of office, they violate the authority invested in them.

Reporters, editors, and publishers for mainstream media have a business obligation to do good. It is a legal requirement for Reid/Pelosi/Obama to abide by the law.

Let's keep that straight, at the Washington Examiner and Net Right Nation. We can and should feel disappointed at the disrespect of the mainstream media, for not reporting about corruption, graft, and abuse of process in an accurate and timely manner. We should feel outraged that no one is filing criminal complaints and impeaching those that abuse their office and seek to avoid or ignore restrictions on authority defined in the US Constitution.

As you can tell, I agree with the outrage and disappointment of the Washington Examiner editorial. I just think they assume facts not in evidence - no one reporting "news" has a real, moral requirement to be complete and honest. They have jobs. Like most other US Citizens, they are entitled to pay attention or ignore the details and scope of what is done in the name of governing the United States.

Let's go through it once again. These reporters are doing what their business wants them to do. Those Congress people and that President are violating procedure and the Constitution.

The difference is pretty clear to me.

tc: Can't find Transition's Golden Land

Transition Culture us a great site. Today's post is a collection of seven videos (A Delicious array of short films about Transition) about Transition - the expected economic and ecologic decline because of global warming and Peak Oil (the end of cheap energy).

Listening to the camera guy (first video), he focuses on a traditional economy. He defines development of products, promotion of business goals, business community activation as the path to Transition. He wants to adapt a consumer-driven business model to engage in sustainable living, eschewing products transported across nations and oceans in favor of the security of locally produced food and goods. Right. That is like selling brussell's sprouts instead of Girl Scout Cookies or candy to raise money.

What I ask is - how do you engage the public? Can Transition afford to overlook the young parents of young children, striving to keep food and utilities, shelter and clothing and hygiene intact? Is it enough to rely on advertising and marketing and even political momentum to convince, in economic terms, a consuming republic to "buy" the concept?

What will cause those feeling burdened with care and nurturing others to recommend significant change?

It seems that there has to be a demonstrable "golden land" goal, lauded by those that have jumped to a new life, to assure the curious and worried that Transition is possible. There must also be a demonstrable and visceral belief that change has to happen to avoid death.

I find there are many forms of death, or massive change - a clearing away of the life from before. Change is almost always seen as the alternative to a worse loss, and is measured in pain.

Transition, done individually or piecemeal, is a change that will be devastating to cultural, social, and family ties and values. How do you move entire cultures or societies, cause painful change? Do you impose change with violence, or make TV commercials? Do you organize college professors or do you invest the plumber's union with motivation and impetus?

I have seen street protests, and formation of nearly closed groups of Transition, Peak Oil, and Warmer believers - where is the change to national building and electric code? Where are the "green" replacement engines for today's transportation vehicles, instead of wasting the energy and resources to replace the metal and (petrochemical) plastic of the whole vehicle? Where are the wholesale overhauls to mass media and public education to replace consumer-driven ethics and buying practices with sustainable and localized lifestyles?

Here in Oklahoma, US, there are many agribusiness farms and ranches. There are also the odd lots and fields left unused - why aren't there people looking to utilize those odd spaces for additional local food production, for demonstration that sustainable practices are viable and useful?

I have a reprint of a book, "10 acres enough". "No man should farm more ground than he can adequately manure (fertilize)." Breaking down big agribusiness means that the number of smaller enterprises - from a couple acres to maybe 80 or 160 acres per family. That means a *lot* of new housing, that should be build and furnished in a sustainable manner. That means a *lot* of tools to be created, from field tools to garden tools to transport from myriad fields to distribution centers. Where is all this infrastructure? If the septic system and county-wide sewer system is to be replace with composting toilets, again there is a need for a *lot* of sustainable system designs. Where are they?

In computer programming circles, it has been noted that the really good systemic changes - aside from hardware - take 20 years. The "C" programming language, Linux, Perl, object oriented programming - it took a couple of decades to find acceptance among people responsible for assets and resources.

The outcome of Kyoto, and now Copenhagen, should be seen as well-deserved bad reviews of poorly executed engineering - defined as "design to cost". It isn't enough to convince academics and a handful of politicians. Why was Copenhagen allowed to happen, without a clamor of support from labor unions and multinational corporations, from school teachers and new parents and those confined to beds or wheel chairs?

Where is the "golden land"?