Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Friday, November 30, 2012

O'henry Comes to New York


I know that at this time of year we sometimes forget in all the stress and turmoil that good things happen.  I also know that only a few of you may know who O'henry is. A few more of you may know one of his stories, a Christmas tale called the "Gift of the Magi."  At one point his stories were included in virtually every literature text for every high school.  He was a master of the surprise ending.  His stories were carefully crafted so that if his readers would go back and look all the details were there for the ending.

At any rate use one of my favorite stories by O'henry was the "The Cop and the Anthem." It is a wonderful story about a hobo named Soapy and his attempts to get arrested so that he can spend the winter months in  a jail cell protected from the elements.  If you would like to read the story you can find it here.

Today I heard of a true life story that happened on a cold fall day in mid-November on the streets of New York City.  It is sort of tale that O'henry would be proud to claim and "The Cop and the Anthem" in reverse.

Walking his beat in Times Square on a brisk November 15th night, Officer Larry DiPrimo noticed a homeless man who had no shoes.  DiPrimo asked the man where his shoes were? The homeless man replied that he didn't have any shoes or socks.  DiPrimo remarked that he was wearing his service boots and two pairs of socks and his feet were cold.

DiPrimo ran two block to a shoe store and went in where he told the clerk to give him the best winter boots they had.  The clerk learning what the young beat cop was up to, threw in his employee's discount; nevertheless the socks and boots cost DiPrimo nearly what a beginning cop makes for a day.  Why not buy cheaper shoes? DiPrimo says that it was his grandfather who told him if you are going to do something, then do it one hundred percent or don't do  it at all.

The three year "rookie" cop returned to the homeless man and with the man sitting on the sidewalk, he placed the socks and boots on the cold and blistered feet with the words " I have these size 12 boots for you; they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you."

The story should have ended there with no one ever knowing of this simple act of kindness except for the classic O'henry twist.  Jennifer Florence from Arizona, who has been in "law enforcement for 17 years" was visiting NYC with her husband and was about to approach the homeless man who was asking for change when DiPrimo arrived with the boots and heard that fateful statement.  She took a picture not because of the gift, but because the young officer kneeling, putting shoes on a needy man reminded her of her own father who was a police officer.


Florence who does not use Facebook or any social network, waited until she returned to work in Arizona and then emailed a letter and after a request the picture to the New York City Police Department congratulating them on the act by the officer whose name she did not know.  They put the letter and picture on their Facebook page.  It was a story of a cop and a hobo that was never meant to be told.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Raised Liberal in a Conservative Home


I was reminded recently about something one of my siblings said.  In many ways, it tells me why I am the way I am and also why I have one child of conservative nature and one of liberal.  I raised them the way I was raised. I know it is easy to make fun of  a liberal education as someone who will never make much money.  But I am in good company because those of the liberal education include minds like Socrates, Plato, Mark Twain, and Einstein. I can live with that.  Keep in mind though that liberal has more than a political meaning.

My sister once said "we were raised liberal in a conservative household."  I suppose that would give me a reason as to why I am, I think, fairly middle of the road.  Liberal in some areas and Conservative in others.  My dad was very conservative, in most areas.  His thoughts of hippies and the whole antiwar movement of the sixties was very clear to me.  My eldest sibling who graduated during that era was also quite clear on her beliefs. We were taught, you see, to stand on our own beliefs.  My dad and she may have disagreed, but it was always based on the respect of knowledge.  None of us would be easily led or should I say misled.

We were taught to find answers and that knowledge was the greatest wealth one could have.  We were taught to respect our elders but that didn't mean we followed them blindly.  Dad had lived on his own too long.  He was self-reliant.  He stood his ground but listened and learned. We were also taught you voted for the best candidate not for one party or the other.  This meant that we had to have knowledge of the candidates, what they believed and what they said.  The party was irrelevant.

He understood the civil rights movement and the dangers of blind racism.  To this day I will never forget when King was shot.  At the time, we were being visited by my great uncle who was a member of the old South.  The shooting came on the news and my uncle announced ...well I won't repeat what he said.  My mother and father were both less than happy about his reaction and for that matter the language he used.  Without ever really discussing it, I knew that it was wrong.  My parents had made that clear.

I am not really sure what the political views of my mother are or really were when growing up.  I know she would not hesitate to discipline us which could involve the use of a ruler.  I suspect though her views are considerably more liberal than my dad's were.  What I do know is again, every thought we built was on a respect for knowledge.

For them money was something that you budgeted.  Wealth was not a goal.  Thought was the goal.  Learning was the goal.  While I never became the dentist my mother wanted (another story), I became, all of us became independent thinkers.  We truly were given a liberal education in a conservative home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Odds are Odd


If you are buying a lottery ticket today good luck.  I may buy one for fun.

The odds are 1 in 176,000,000 that you'll win and the odds are much better, because of the number of players, that you will split the jack pot with someone.  I admit there is some fun in playing but if it really is your financial strategy, you need to fire yourself as your adviser and hire someone else, say someone like your Uncle Silas who thought investing in the koi business was a good idea.

Just know that the odds are better that you would become President (1 in 10,000,000) than winning.  You actually have a better chance of dying by vending machine (1 in 112,000,000) than winning. Also keep an eye on the sky because if the odds are in your favor then you are also more likely to die by being struck by lightening (1 in 2,320,000).  I have to be careful because I am left-handed.  The odds of dying from being left-handed is 1 in 4,400,000.

You also have better odds of winning an Oscar (1 in 11,500) or becoming canonized (1 in 20,000,000).  Your odds of dating a super model are 1 in 88,000. Your Odds of winning an Olympic medal: 1 in 662,000. Oh and there is still a 40 percent chance that there will be no winner.

In fact about the only things that are greater than odds than winning the lottery is being killed by a shark (1 in 300,000,000) and having your house struck by a meteor (1 in 182,138,880,000,000).

But the anticipation is fun and as they say if you don't play, you cannot win. Please be careful driving to buy that ticket because the odds of dying in a car accident is 1 in 6,700. If you win, though please consider that you may not have time to spend the money.  The Mayans say so.

Good luck.

(Odds are from and

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dreams of teaching


I don't remember dreams as a general rule.  Even when I do, I don't recall details.  This is true, except for the fact that maybe once a week, I dream about teaching.  Always a struggle, but also always a joy as well.  I mean, I do not wake up terrified by the thought of again standing in front of the classroom. I also do not awaken saddened by the idea that I no longer do.  Still, I dream about teaching.  It was, after all, my life for over thirty years.

I recall a few dreams but have little idea about why they contain what they do.  Most commonly, I think I am back in my own classroom, and a few are about the politics involved in keeping programs alive, courses protected and classroom numbers up or down. One recent dream was truly odd. I was teaching at a charter school, but it was more than what a charter school should be.  It was really more like a camp.  A series of cabins in the woods and I was both the new teacher and the only one of the six or so staff members who had real teaching experience.  It was truly odd.  I recall one of my fellow members sitting behind a desk, his cabin empty, and bare rough hewed planks making up the walls.  I was looking for my own classroom.  He knew where that was and sent me off into the forest.  Along the path I followed, I would pass students on their way to various places but I had the feeling that no one actually knew where the students were.

I awoke.

Actually quite vivid.  I am not one who analyzes dreams.  The searching for my classroom, my place, was obvious enough.  Aren't we all searching, even at my age, for our place in the world.  The dream was not a nightmare, but just a search.  Dreaming about this in the context of teaching is to be expected.  It is what occurred to me after I awoke.

For several months, since I retired after I awake from dreaming about teaching, I would wonder at what point I would quit dreaming about teaching.  I wondered how long teaching would continue to be the context of my subconscious life.  I wondered when other teachers leave teaching how long it was before they stopped dreaming these dreams.

And then it hit me.

What does it mean when I stop dreaming about teaching?  Will it mean I've found a new place?  Will it mean that I've lost the context of the life I built as a teacher?  Have I moved on or have I given up?  The loss of these dreams are a bit disconcerting.

Even retired, it is still one of the defining features of my life. In no small part, my blogs have given me an outlet to discuss events and thoughts, to use what we used to call teachable moments. The only difference is now I do not have to monitor my own beliefs as I would in the classroom.

Still --

I dream of teaching...

Monday, November 26, 2012

OPEC May Lose -- More about gasssssssssssssss


If the International Energy Agency report had been released during the campaign, imagine what would have happened to the talking points how lowered oil production, which was not entirely accurate, had lessened our dominance. With the release of the International Energy Agency's report, it would appear that we are indeed becoming a leader in production.

IEA reports that the US could lead in petroleum product production in as little as five years and be completely energy independent by 2035.  We will lead in exportation of natural gas by 2020.  Gas prices rise because of demand and the expanding growth of China, India and the Middle East account for 60 percent of that demand.  In other words, they continue to control demand and set market price by doing so.  As such, by the time the USA is oil net (exporting as much as we import) 90 percent of the demand for Middle Eastern oil will be going to Asia.  These gains for the US is in large part due to policy on use and efficiency.

Because the US actually has a policy is why we are showing growth and not the other way around. Other nations who do not have these policies will not fair so well.  The report also points that these policies could by time for a "much needed global climate agreement" which if put in place could reduce energy costs by as much as "20 percent on average."  The report goes on to say the controlled use of energy policy "would facilitate a gradual reorientation of the global economy, boosting cumulative economic output to 2035 by $18 trillion, with the biggest gains in India, China, the United States and Europe."

Looks like our efficiency policy may be paying off big dividends if we can convince a few folks that we do have a global climate problem and get busy doing what we needa to be done, instead of making jokes about it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Is America Dying...Really?


This is what the politics of divisiveness has wrought.  We aren't a changing country.  We aren't a growing country.  We are a dying country. If you are to believe those who tried to scare us with how terrible things will become with Obama's re-election or how divided between the haves and have nots would be had Romney been elected, then this is a scary, dying and once great nation.  I for one am digging my hole to hide in for the coming apocalypse.

A student wrote that it was time for our decline after all the average life span of any world power is on average only 200 years she argued.  How sad to have such an outlook.  How sad that she would have such a stilted view of history.  No, the average life span of a great nation is not 200 years.  That is a myth.  The Egyptians, Ottomans, Chinese, Romans, British, and and and - all have had empires last far longer than 200 years.  The USA did not start out as a world power from its inception by the way.  We only became that actually if you think of the invention of the Atom Bomb in the 1940's.  Always considered a "sleeping giant" because of our land mass size and number of resources, the US as a world power is not even then much more that just over half a century old.

The place we are in now is because of scare tactics.  We are going to hell in a hand basket.  Life is horrid.  The world is ending. We are fiddling while Rome burns.  Life in the US is only going to get worse.

I blame sensationalism.  I blame a press who has become more interested in ratings than challenging the  outrageous statements.  I blame foolish politicians who monger in fear and refuse to look at reality.  I blame reality television which is about as real as a game fact, most of them are game shows.  I blame those who take no stand against this insanity that divides us.  I blame the Mayans.

Let's face it, there have always been guys standing on street corners with sandwich signs announcing the end of the world.  He was on that street corner in New York City, in Dallas, in ancient Persia, on the Great Wall as it was built.  There are just some folks who don't seem to see what a great place we live in.  They miss the massive support from ordinary folks following Sandy and Katrina and other disasters.  They've missed the folks who contribute to their food banks and donate coats and toys.  They miss the wonder of Christmas as a child sits on Santa's lap or the discovery of the incredible sacrifice of Easter or Passover.  They were unaware of the steps that men like Lincoln, Washington, Franklin, Armstrong, Glenn, Salk, Roosevelt, and countless others have made for freedom and mankind.  They miss the man who maxes out his credit cards to buy pumps for flooded basements in New York not because he can use them all but he knows his neighbors can.  They miss the artists, the magic of theatre, music and dance and that we do always seem to come together to do what needs to be done. The secret of our country, you see, is not our age but our resilience and the hand we offer in troubled times to others.

We know that sooner or later we must do more to protect our planet and try to stop over-population, global warming, and that we should be caring for all and not listening to extremism of the fringe who think freedom only applies to what they believe.  The problem is for the first time in history the guy with the sandwich sign can appear in more places by being on TV or YouTube or Facebook. His sign has been replaced by a meme which is just as big of lie as the sign he once wore is.  It makes them seem like they really do have a stronger and scarier voice. They are still fringe and the only power they have is to deal in fear, lies and half-truths.  One writer I saw recently put it this way.  Every town had a wacko standing on the street corner.  They thought they were alone. Now, they are discovering their fellow wackos online and banding together.

NO we are not a dying nation.  We are still a great nation.  Don't let the sensationalist and scary people and politicians make you think otherwise.  Paranoia is easy. Fear is easy.  Living is a challenge that only you can take.  There are far too many who don't think...they react. Wackos are just louder than they used to be, but they still don't know what they think they do and if you follow them, you need your own sandwich sign.

What do you choose?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Purple Map...a cool thing


You've all seen the election maps with the red states and blue states and purple or swing states.  These maps create something of a distortion showing large swaths of red in the South and central West while the blue areas tend to cover the states with large metropolitan areas and along the coasts.  There are ways to avoid the problem and get a more accurate picture.  Some maps have been done going county by county which creates a much more distinct picture but on a large map of the US it tends to get a bit blurry.   Another person did it by every 100 vote areas which creates a very large over-lap or purple areas.  But by far the coolest is the one that avoids these issues by going 3-D showing red, blue, and purple divisions.  It is really fascinating the amount of area that is actually purple, but besides that it is really cool.

 The map takes a while to load so be patient. It can be found here. It is the brain child of Princeton's Robert J. Vanderbei.  You can see his 2-D version of the map here. The point is that we really aren't Red States and Blue States but surprisingly purple.  Maybe - just maybe - Republicans, Democrats and Independents are not so far apart.  We seem to be living together in a very civil manner.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I thought perhaps that it would be best to remember like the map above we are not red or blue but as a country, very purple.   Well that's my thoughts on it any ways.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The forgotten holiday


What holiday are you enamored  by? For me it is Christmas.  I love the decorations and trees and the general feelings.  For others it is Halloween.  Other than the candy, not a fan.  I set a few decorations, but I don't look forward to it.  I suppose it is because of the fact that Zombies and Vampires are on most every channel.  That said, what about the forgotten holidays?

Easter has become more about bunnies and chicks for many and not nearly as much about the three important days of Christian beliefs. But that's a whole other blog.

There are a bunch.  Understandably there is Columbus Day, no longer politically fashionable.  There is also Veterans' Day, often barely remembered. The three day holidays, President's Day, although once upon a time we celebrated Washington's and Lincoln's Birthdays as two separate holidays, and Labor Day and Memorial Day and Martin Luther King's Birthday.  There are the Hallmark holidays of St. Valentines, Mother's Day, and the lesser Father's Day. There are some of the odder ones like May Day which was actually originally a fertility right, Arbor Day, Green Day, Grandparent Day, Take Your Kid to Disrupt Work Day, Secretary Day, Boss's Day, and a host of others.  There's also the beer holidays like St. Patty's Day and I hate to say it the 4th of July.  Drinks and Fireworks, now there's a good idea.

But the one that has lost the most in meaning is a major one.

When I was a kid, between Halloween and Christmas there was Thanksgiving.  It was not the sports holiday for football.  I should mention that I am more than a bit concerned and saddened about football on Christmas day, but Thanksgiving lost, I think some of its status, because there aren't any real holiday treats.  It's about football and eating and maybe a heavily orchestrated Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The magic of Santa's arrival or the balloons loses something when the parade becomes more about product placement and singing stars promoting their latest album than this was the day of Pilgrim Thanks.

It was a day once marked by family and that smell coming from the kitchen.  At night we gathered to watch the annual presentation of The Wizard of Oz and a few years later, It's a Wonderful Life, not to mention a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  Now we sit with plates full on our TV trays and watch the game.

Thanksgiving is the day before the big holiday...yep Black Friday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Secession: When Democracy Fails...We Quit


Okay, every state in the union has an internet petition going to secede from the Union.  A group tried that, as I recall following the election of another president that some didn't like.  It didn't work so well then.  Besides the terror and death and destruction, the Civil War caused let's actually look at what a modern secession would bring if the states were allowed to do this..

  1. The immediate revocation of passports.
  2. The immediate loss of all US Postal delivery
  3. The immediate loss of all Federal Law Enforcement, including the FBI, DEA, and Immigration and Border  Patrol.
  4. The immediate loss of all military bases.
  5. The immediate withdrawal of all Federal contracts.
  6. The immediate loss of all Federal funding for infrastructure.
  7. Declaration of off shore oil rigs as belonging the the Federal Government
  8. Loss of all programs such as welfare, medicare, medicaid, social security, and veteran benefits.  Social Security and Veterans benefits may be restored if Congress determines that foreign nationals can receive such benefits.
  9. With drawl of Federal prisons, leaving the question as to what to do with anyone being held in these facilities.
  10. Immediate demand for payment of each state's share of the national debt.
  11. Immediate raise in tariffs  for  foreign products being sent into the United States.
  12. Conditional treaty for the passage of materials and fly zones for the United States to join with no seceded  states. 
  13. Loss of all support for air ports and air traffic control.
  14. With drawl of all protection of shipping lanes for any ship not flying an American flag.
  15. Immediate payment of all college loans.
  16. Loss of additional support to university, colleges and public schools such as food programs and othe support.
And these are just a few of the things for which suddenly state governments would be responsible.  Those states such as Colorado which are landlocked would even have more severe problems because virtually everything would now be imported.  The loss of the states on the other had, would leave those states still in the union in a stronger financial level since they would be paying for much less and most that would stay carry the bulk of manufacturing and technology in the US.    To say that secession is anything more than a bunch of disgruntled, sore losers trying to take their toys and go home is laughable.  I would also remind those of you that see these online petitions are far from accurate in who signed the petition and how many times they signed it.  I can create a number of email accounts and sign a bunch of times.  

Which brings me to sensationalism by the entertainment press.  Scare tactics have gone far enough.  It's bad enough that the Democrats and Republicans both do it, but now the press is in on the fun.  Let's take for example the largest number of signatures on one of these petitions, Texas.  The press loves saying that the petition has over 100,000 signatures.  That's a lot.  It is soooooo many people.  It's a minority by a lot too.

There are 25,674,681 in 2011 according to the US Census Bureau.  The Texas petition then at 100,000 is .3 per cent of the population of Texas.  Three tenths of one percent is hardly worth the press it has received. Now if it were Wyoming, that would be many people, about 17.6 percent. But in truth the signatures are 8,883 signatures or about 1.5 percent of the population.  In all honesty, all the signatures together probably wouldn't make a city large enough to win a populace vote against New York City or for that matter Denver. In total 675,000 people had signed nation-wide according to The Daily Caller.  That's two tenths of one percent of the US nation wide.  Can you say that secession is sensationalized.  I suppose they could band together as the new Confederacy, but they actually don't even have enough signatures to be given their own state.

Face the facts, folks.  The press is sensationalizing the story.  States couldn't afford to peacefully secede and survive. Online petitions are far from accurate in recording signatures. And finally we now know how many wackadoodles it takes to make a news story.  I'm sorry your vote doesn't count more than mine.  I'm sorry your candidate lost or the guy you've been told is going to destroy the US won, which ever you're more afraid of.  I'm sorry you apparently have no respect for the process that is Democracy.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lincoln History Captured on Film


I know, I know...another review of an obviously good movie.  Never before had I felt as if I was witnessing the time period as I did in Lincoln.  The costuming, beards, hair styles, and language was as true, I think as one could get.  Daniel Day Lewis was by far the most astounding and realistic Lincoln, I think I've ever seen.  Tommy Lee Jones, too, has grown over the years to become an astounding actor as well.  Gone are all the trappings and romanticism of the more civil congress who didn't make backroom deals or accept jobs and even bribes for votes.  Here is the stark reality of a very different time and of a Congress that was far from civil and of the highest integrity.  Here was the Lincoln of the ages.  That's my review.  Because I have something different I want to remind people of.  I want you to see his words and remember why our nation  fought and why Lincoln was a blessing to a nation divided...


AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. 

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. 

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." 

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Abraham Lincoln, The Second Inaugural Address
March 4th, 1865

It is considered by many to have been one if not his greatest speech.

The last paragraph speaks volumes to the divided nature of our country then and perhaps now.  Just over a month after its delivery, Lincoln died at 7:22 am on April 15th 1865.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Never Argue with a Crazy Person...


There are a number of folks who have  become paranoid.  My little ole Facebook account is inundated by everything from they are coming to get our guns, to the socialists are the same as Democrats, to the anti science Republicans to the secession petitions (perhaps another blog) to on and on and on.  Another friend announced he has reached his limit with yet another over pumped Washington scandal:  Benghazigate or my favorite new announced scandal, which one pundit entitled Spyfall.

The ambassador to the United Nations, often called the top ambassador, Susan Rice was given talking points by the CIA.  She went on Sunday talk shows and maintained what she had been told at the time which was really not the far away from the attack.  She maintained that the attack appeared to be inspired by that film and there was a protest.  She also said it was still too early to to have a "definitive conclusion" and it was "the best information we had to date." That was the extent of her knowledge and involvement.  Enter politics, stage Right.  It was after all a political season and a presidential race was on.  Following his briefing though, even Romney, who had made a terrible error on the night of the Benghazi attack, decided, to his credit, it was best to step back while security oversight in congress investigated.  That didn't stop the chair of the committee from releasing uncleared testimony nor John McCain who seems to be determined to turn this into a scandal.

Enter election stage Left.   America's number one spy, David Petraeus a retired, married,  four star general, tenders his resignation for an affair with a married woman.  Immediately a conspiracy theory makes appearance.  The affair was revealed to force Petraeus to resign and prevent him from testifying about Benghazi because everyone knows that four star generals are easy to push around and the administration was covering up Benghazi events during the election to prevent the American people from learning that a group of armed people attacked an embassy and killed four people...but wait...we knew all that.  It doesn't really matter if he continues as CIA chief or not.  Congress can subpoena any one.  It is one of their powers.  I could also add that Petraeus is also a Republican but he is still going to resign to take one for the Democrats?

So what we have here is that for  one or two weeks, we were told an attack may have been inspired by a riot over a bad film trailer. Oh my, what a terrible thing! We were given information that was based on what might be true. Then we learned  it was actually a cover for an Al Qaeda inspired group which we knew shortly afterward that lives in a part of Libya not  under the control of the new found government.  Petraeus will by the way testify before Congress. He volunteered. Exit conspiracy upstage.

Re-enter Spyfall stage Right.  Apparently, Patraeus is being railroaded to keep everyone from knowing about how badly something happened or is being done or to cove up some mistake or - not really sure what - but it's apparently enough to have him thrown under the bus.  One of the Facebook folks announced it was being done by them or the military, although I am still not really sure how forcing a retired general helps cover up something in the military.  He was quite emphatic in very explicit language.  Never argue with a crazy person or a zealot.

Why did Petraeus resign?  According to CNN and now backed up by other sources that to keep a secret of this nature could put an agent at risk of having his indiscretions used against him.  Add to this that all who know the general say he is a man of honor who takes responsibility for his mistakes and also some one who holds himself to the same standards as he would any person under his supervision, Petraeus took what he considered his best course of action: publicly take responsibility, take control of that mistake, and take an honorable course.  He resigned.

The whole thing is starting to look like a bad episode of a reality show or an episode of Days of Our Lives.  There is now another general involved, two women, twins, a mysterious whistle blower from the FBI that has no real relation to the case  and who revealed the investigation to Representative Eric Cantor (R), who did the right thing and notified the  FBI chief that he had a leak, and apparently twins are also somehow involved.  All we need now is someone who we thought was dead to be discovered in a coma who suddenly becomes conscious.

The investigation was a threatening email, which doesn't seem all that threatening and is a crime given who all was involved.  The only leak is the FBI agent who was sticking his nose where it didn't belong and it was determined pretty early on that the FBI believed no national security had been breached at that point, making this your basic criminal investigation.  I know those of you who are sure of the conspiracy may not believe me, but the Executive branch is not informed of every criminal investigation done by the FBI.  Still, you must be right because never argue with a crazy person or a zealot. This conspiracy moves to an upstage left not quite ready to exit...

Enter politics stage Right in the person of John McCain and Lindsey Graham who both will use their power to keep Susan Rice from becoming Secretary of State which she hasn't been nominated for.  McCain characterized her as not terribly bright and announced she was either lying to the American people or covering up Benghazi which she had nothing to do with. This from the man who supported the idea that WMD's were in Iraq and supported Condoleeza Rice who announced that not only  Iraq had WMDs but also nuclear weapons.  This from a man who picked Sarah Palin to be one heart  beat away from the presidency who announced her insight into foreign affairs was because she could "see Russia from her house" and didn't know the UK was a democracy lead by a Prime Minister and not the Queen.

Enter politics stage Left, one unhappy president who tells Graham and McCain that attacking Susan Rice was because she is "an easy target"   is just wrong and if they want to come after someone it should be him.  Doesn't really sound like he's too worried about a conspiracy being discovered.

Graham then announces that Obama has "failed as Commander-In-Chief."  McCain goes on TV and announces that they need more information and they will get to the bottom of this.  He makes this announcement of fact finding as he misses a closed door security hearing where some of the questions will be answered.  There are no cameras though in a closed door meeting.  The Commander-In-Chief was re-elected.  They also seem to have conveniently forgotten that Republicans voted to reduce funding for embassy security and that consulates, which is actually what is in Benghazi, do not receive Marine protection.  Graham and McCain have made charges without a single shred of evidence.  This conspiracy now stands at stage center.  It all sounds political.  Senators, you may be right after all because  I know better than to argue with a crazy person or a zealot.

Ahh paranoia and conspiracy...hand in hand...happily making invisible footprints on the beach.  I for one prefer to see evidence.  But without conspiracies, what would Dan Brown write about.  I know it's silly and maybe a little crazy to actually look to the facts or even to wait for them, but you know something:

 Never Argue with a Crazy Person.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shaken...not Stirred

The third movie as Bond...

Jame Bond

for Daniel Craig is a good one it has a few surprises and some not so surprising elements.  Craig is rapidly becoming my favorite 007.  For one thing, he is a pretty good actor.  As proof the fact that he is far far from a good looking man (I know many a person of the female persuasion may disagree) his Bond's ability to get the Bond girl is easily believed.  Of course we guys are not looking at Bond at that point.  I don't want to give too much away about this movie, but it is filled, as is with most Bond movies, with gadgets, unusual ways to die, lunatic bad guys, an intriguing opening title sequence, and amazing action.  The classic Aston Martin even makes an appearance complete with the classic guns and ejector seat.  You know what happens to Bond cars, though don't you?

And so comes the 23rd official Bond movie, Skyfall  and no I am not going to tell you the reason for the title.  There have also been at least two independent versions of Bond.  Rumor has it the Craig is in talks to do at least five more Bond movies.  Despite one critic listing Quantum of Solace as one of the worst Bond films ever made and one that I personally liked probably as well as any Bond movie as I've ever seen, the latest Bond, Daniel Craig is less suave and more action and certainly more gritty.  He hearkens back to the original Bond of Sean Connery.  The more recent films  are less gadget oriented though and set in a modern world which is as M points out no longer has enemies that are easily identified.

Q, now a young computer geek, is great fun.  He gives Bond his assorted false identities, and gadgets, but oddly we have a unique twist. This may be something of a spoiler, so you may want to skip this but it is a thematically strong point for the movie.  When Bond first meets Q, Q gives him a gun and a radio transmitter.  Bond looks at him and curiously and Q says something like "You were expecting an exploding pen? Really 007 we don't go in for that sort of thing, anymore." The conversation moves to the ability to cause terror not by exploding gadgets but by computer control. Q announces that he can do more damage in his pajamas than Bond every could to which Bond asks why he's needed.  Q says, "Occasionally a trigger must be pulled," a reference to M's statement two movies ago about Bond being a blunt instrument.  Bond responds in an unusual manner to Q's statement.  He responds to the pulling trigger line by saying, "Or making the decision not to" pull the trigger.  That one line humanizes Bond and makes us realize that he too has a past.

Everything is now in place.  M, Moneypenny, and Q are all now back and in perfect place with a few neat twists.  I think, if you haven't seen it yet, and you are a Bond fan, you'll enjoy Skyfall.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let's Talk Validity...who you use matters

Okay former students and those of you who just post every report you come across from the net as if it were true...let's talk validity.  I've covered this in various ways before, but I think a few of you need a review.

Valid Sources.  Lets take for example point-of-view.  Point-of-view (POV) is an important aspect of any report.  If your source is from the say "tin foil hat" crowd, their POV is likely to be fairly inaccurate.  Check your writers.  The folks on Conservative papers and TV have an agenda just as do the folks on Liberal Sites.  Do they always mislead you, no.  They do however choose wording very carefully, if they are any good at what they do.  If not, they end up being too extreme even for their sites or TV station.  We'll get to those in a moment.

Let's take election night coverage, for example.

After the race had been called and Romney had done his concession speech, I went channel surfing.  CNN and NBC were going through the numbers, indicators, and what remained. FOX was wondering how on earth Obama had won.  What had he done to win? He was a horrible leader and an abysmal jobs record. was the statement.  MSNBC was discussing if it were now a mandate.  You see each had an agenda.  The mainstream would unpack the election later, for now they were reporting the numbers.  The Conservative press had believed that all the polls were wrong and that Romney was really going to win by a landslide. The Liberal Press were discussing how this met the end of the Republican Congress, even if it didn't.  All three had their purpose but only one was truly nonpartisan.  I am sorry to tell you that because of validity, there is no such thing as only "liberal mainstream media."  That, my friends, is known as loaded words and is a common propaganda technique. If you believe it, you've been duped.

And then there were the extremes...Rush Limbaugh and Carl Rove immediately went off on how the election was crooked and rigged and controlled by the liberal media.  The extreme left, I think maybe it was Howie Martin, but I cannot be sure was talking about the evil men and super-pacs as if they were some sort of super villains needing to be imprisoned by Batman.  They too had their agenda.  It was to stir up the base and scare the crazies.  I didn't have the heart to see what Beck was doing.  I am sorry, someone who is too extreme even for FOX is not someone I would use as a source.  I feel the same way about Olbermann on the left.  Coulter and Limbaugh, who when lacking arguments usually spew the most vial kinds of bigoted remarks, have also made the list of people I don't want to take any ideas from.  Extreme reporting is the new propaganda wing of any party.  They will always be with us but with now 100's  of TV stations, web based shows and talk radio from AM to FM to SIRIUS they are far easier to find and access.  So choosing your source is a very precarious and time consuming aspect.  Looking at the words and the connotation of these words is also a great way to look at validity too.

Once valid sources aren't  editorials and opinion pages are not unbiased sources either.  So how do you know that you are getting nonpartisan information.  Look for sites that still use reporters not pundits.  A small newspaper may give you a starting point, but you need to verify.  VERIFY.  These small papers often don't. They have a set amount of space and sometimes, they indiscriminately just pick things to fill the space. Large papers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and The Atlantic  and even The Wall Street Journal are usually good sources and conservative in their reporting.  By conservative I don't mean political leaning but careful in their reporting, erring on caution's side.  Again, do not use the opinion pages.  They may be a starting point but they are far from fact.  For example, during the campaign several of the studies used to support Romney's economic plans were not studies.  They were opinion pieces in the Journal.  With a further check, the authors were actually also members or even advisers to the campaign.  Validity  becomes important.

Look at who political sites attack, besides each other.  My son and I had a discussion once about the "liberal leaning" Politifact. He follows largely conservative talk radio.  I tend to watch MSNBC.  I'm not saying I believe everything they say, I don't.  But they do have a number of reporters and I am far more likely to see a center leaning Republican, yes a few do exist, than I am likely to see a center leaning Democrat on FOX. I'm sorry, but when Saturday Night Live can use your actual words to create a skit, you are in serious trouble with your validity.  I digress.

My son's point was that conservative radio had continually pointed to Politifact as liberal media.  What I found interesting was liberal radio, even Obama's own team, had recently attacked Politifact for being too conservative.  If both sides are attacking the same group...then they are probably as close to nonpartisan in information as you will find.  Another of our discussion was about a source I'd used who had written at one point for a liberal paper and who was now working at The Atlantic.  This brings up an interesting situation.  Do you go with the writer's POV or the POV of the paper.

Two things need to be considered. First the nature and placement of the report and secondly if there are others who have reported the same.  In this case I had both.  I had at least two other sources verifying The Atlantic report and The Atlantic has a reputation to protect.  In other words, a reporter answers to an editor who answers to a publisher.  If that publisher has built a reputation on nonpartisan reporting, then the editor will protect it regardless the leanings of the reporter. This is why there is why the "liberal media" is more propaganda than truth.  A reporter may be liberal or even conservative, but they are to separate their own POV from the news they report and to make sure this happens, there are editors, producers, directors, department chairs and even lawyers to make sure this happens.  A few stories may squeak through but they are far from the majority.  Some even argue that the equity  in reporting idea actually gets in the way of reporting.

This is one of the reasons that FOX has issues being taken seriously by much of the media.  Rupert Murdoch who owns FOX is known for two things: his conservative, some might say extreme conservative, point of view and his papers which print sensational stories.  You may remember the British newspapers getting in trouble for hacking into cell phones.  Guess who owns the papers...Murdoch.  The editors for Murdoch's media empire have very clear instructions as to what they need to do.  The Wallstreet Journal, also owned by Murdoch, has a very conservative opinion page.  The rest of the paper which is a standard for business  is more carefully monitored because it too has a reputation to protect.

So before you post a news report, consider it's source.  I might get an idea from Mother Jones, but I would never consider them a valid source until I verified.  There are a few out there that are just out there.  The Enquirer might be fun to read, but their reporting is to say the least substandard.  So the next time you post something from The Blaze or from Mother Jones, consider the source.  You know I will, just before I hide such trash from my timeline on Facebook.

If you want answers, then you will need to take the time to find your own.  The truth is seldom black and white, but that doesn't mean its indistinguishable from fact.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stupid stuff people say


While watching election day interviews, only Newt Gingrich could come up with a statement like, voters being "2nd and 3rd generation European." I had to burst out laughing.  This would make them American, Newt.  By your standard, my Great or is it Great Great Grandparents on my mother's side who came from Ireland in the late 1800's would make me over a century later, third or fourth generation European too.

We all say stupid stuff like putting up those photo-shopped pictures or posting news stories from the Onion about Samsung paying Apple off in nickels believing them to be real.  But public figures really do say some unusual things.

News people and pundits alike kept saying that the election all depended on who got the most people to the polls. You mean it all depends on who gets the most votes in the swing states? It was much like those interviews after ball games. You know the one where a player on the losing team solemnly announces that the other team played a better game or the losing team just didn't score often enough. You mean the team that plays better and scores the most points usually wins. Who knew?

So what are some of the dumber things? Here's a sampling.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
"I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with 'Guess' on it. I said, "Thyroid problem?" - Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Governor

Geroge Wallace
"I've read about foreign policy and studied, I now know the number of continents.” - George Wallace, Alabama Governor and Presidential Candidate

"The world is more like it is now than it ever has been before." - Dwight Eisenhower, US President

"For most people, death comes at the end of their lives." -United Kingdom radio broadcaster

Samuel Goldwyn
"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." - Mariah Carey

"A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it is written on." - Samuel Goldwyn, CEO of MGM studios
Jerry Lewis

"People hate me because I am a multifaceted, talented, wealthy, internationally famous genius." - Jerry Lewis, Comedian

The President has kept all of the promises he intended to keep.” –  George Stephanopolous, Clinton aide and TV News Personality

 "More and more of our imports are coming from overseas." -George W. Bush, US President

 "You know the one thing that's wrong with this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say." -Bill Clinton, US President
Dan Quayle

 "And now the sequence of events in no particular order." - Dan Rather, News Anchor

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century." - Dan Quayle, US Vice-President

"Facts are stupid things".- Ronald Reagan, US President
Walter Hickel

"What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."- Dan Quayle,  US Vice President

"You just can't let nature run wild." - Walter Hickel "Alaska Governor who once justified a plan to kill hundreds of wolves.
Jay Dickey

"I think incest can be handled as a family matter within the family." -Jay Dickey Jr., US Representative from Arkansas

''Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.'' - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

In all honesty, everyone says stupid things and politicians and news folks talk for a living.  When you talk for hours on end every day, you are bound to let a few gaffs go between your lips.  While a few gaffs reveal true character, others are just those dumb things we all do.  Some of our politicians and pundits and celebrities are just better at it.  George W. was well known for what became known as Bushisms as was Dan Quayle  who frequently showed us that one should pause before opening his mouth.  I suppose the lesson here is that while Alaska Governor Sarah Palin really couldn't see Russia from her house, everyone needs to take a moment and engage the grey cells before engaging our the hole between our lower and upper jaw.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It is the Christian thing to do...

He looks into the eyes of the man yelling about Welfare and Takers and how awful it all is.  He hears him as he announces that "they" take money for drugs or tattoos and have children only so they can get more money.  He listens as he talks about how evil that gay marriage thing is and how we need laws to stop those immoral abortions.  The man howls how it is God's will...
       Quietly he looks at him and asks "Are you your brother's keeper?"
        "If a man asks you for your shirt do you not offer him your coat also?"
        "Blessed be the ....?  He pauses.
        "The blank shall inherit the Earth."
        "Then tell me why a person who is poor does not deserve your welfare?  They are not all drug addicts, they get very little extra money for children and even if they do all these things you say they do, who are you to judge? I will not starve because some tax money is given to one poor person.  If it raises just one, just one, then I can give up one time eating at Chile's.   Love someone as you love yourself.  Why do you find this so wrong? If health care, welfare or a simple coat will save a person, why would you not do this?"
        "While Jesus did say that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and two shall become one, He did not say that other forms of love were wrong.  In fact He said nothing about being gay, except that even if it were a sin, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' Are you without sin?  Who are you to judge? If it is wrong, then God will judge, not you.  Judge not lest you be judged.  You do know who the second Judge is don't you...the One who will judge you?
     He nods and continues, "Who are you to judge what is God's will?  You are a man.  I am a man. I may not believe that abortion is right, but who am I to say that a person who chooses this act is wrong and I am right and therefore they should live on my terms.  God gave man free will. We make the wrong decisions.  We make the right decisions, but we cannot make decisions for others.  That will be God's judgement.  It is His and not mine.  Who are you to judge?"
      He smiles at the man, "I cannot judge you and I will not judge you.  That is God's will.  To love and live and welcome all who sits at the table. Christ forgave and died to do so.  What will you do as you condemn?  I am no Bible thumper nor a scholar, nor do I go to Church regularly, but I know what I know. I believe. And even if you don't, that too is okay.  I could be wrong but so could you.  All I know is we are suppose to love one another, help one another, forgive one another, and make our own choices. All are welcome at the Lord's table. Who should we help, the righteous man or those who need the help.  I am no judge.  Are you? You see it is the right thing to do.  It is the Christian thing to do."

He smiles again and then walks away.  The man must find his own way and make his own choices.  God's will be done.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Driving...I am so much better than that guy

I am a way better driver than the idiots I allow to share the road with me.  I dare someone go slow, you know like the speed limit, when I want to go fast and how dare people pile up behind me when I feel like going the speed limit or perhaps a bit slower? And it is not my fault when I forget to use my left turn signal or ignore the yield sign on the acceleration lane.  It is my road after all.  And why on earth would I want to pay attention to that silly yellow line?

I will drive incredibly slow when the rain sprinkles on the road but when it snows and the roads ice up I will drive like a maniac because I have four wheel drive. I will also slow down at every intersection when I don't know where I am going because I don't know how to use a map, map quest, Google navigation or Google maps (we all understand for those who have to use Apple maps). I slow down for every flat tire and flame-out on the highway because it is at least as interesting as, oh say, a moose.  I will also take scenic drives going as slow as I like on major highways and refuse to move over for people who might actually have someplace to go.

When leaving en masse from parking garages or from parking lots, I will refuse to use the simple courtesy of the every other car goes principal and leave people stuck in their parking spot or in line for hours.  I will pass bicycles by going out into the other lane despite the others are coming in that lane and force them to slow down.  After all, I had to slow for the bicycle, maybe...

I will take others right of way when at an intersection so that they don't have to pay attention to left and right but to a third direction.  I will pass someone who is turning left on the right at an intersection so I can threaten the car in the right side of the intersection.  In fact, face it, right-of-way is mine, mine, mine! Hahahahahahahahahahhaha

Rather than flash someone who has left on their brights, I will turn mine on suddenly as I approach because they obviously did it to me on purpose.  I will also come up behind people with my brights on so they can read as my gift to them.  I will follow as close as I can to let them know of my displeasure that they are  not going as fast as I want to.

I will assume that every large vehicle is going slower than I want to, even though I own a much smaller car and they have three times the horse power I do.  I will let my dog run wild in the bed of my truck.

I will be sure that when turning right, I will pull up far enough so the person there turning left cannot see.  I will cut across lanes when turning left.  Heck, I'm going to cut lanes without a signal.  All those lanes and so little time.  I will, whenever possible ride in the blind spot for mile on end and I will match speed with people who try to pass me in the passing lane.  I will of course go the same speed as the guy on the right in passing lanes so no one can get around.  When I come out of the end of the passing lane, I will not yield to cars who are almost past me.

I  will forget that I am not alone on the road. I will make obscene gestures at people because the way I drive is always superior.  I will talk on cell phone and eat my lunch while barreling down the road because that being distracted thing does not apply to me. I will also try to text for the same reason. I may even write a novel on my laptop while going down the road.  I am the superior driver.

I am the better driver and all that I do is a reflection of who I am.

Get it...Try courtesy.  I promise, it will not hurt.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gun Control and Tin Foil Hats.

Just about every time I think I need to shut off the feed on my Facebook page, someone gives me something else to write about.  As I said in an earlier post, some of my friends had not presented their bizarre beliefs, yet.  But with the passing of the election, and the loss of Mitt Romney,  more than a few have presented the  beliefs they have been fed.

The most recent of these are the ones who are scared that there is secret Democrat conspiracy to take away their guns and repeal the second amendment.  Even if there was a move to ban certain guns or over-sized clips, I doubt that any of these guys own the guns likely to be controlled.

I hate to harp on a previous point, but the emails and ads put out by the NRA are quite simply not true.  Do a little fact checking.  Obama has never limited guns or said that he would even after the movie theater shooting.  He has expanded the right to carry in National Forests which is hardly a restrictive idea.

But the tin foil hat crowd are not to be dissuaded by a few facts.  Let me put this into context.  One discussion appearing on my time line went like this.  First they shared an article from some "newspaper" that won't even show up when I Googled it to see if it had any particular political leaning.  I think it boils down to an online  newspaper that is in New Hampshire that reports on business.  I'm not really sure why a stock market paper would put up an article on gun control in California. What was truly interesting was at the  the article.s reporter.  That name was clickable and his website did show up on Google.  It appeared predominantly on a conspiracy theory site.  The site actually has conspiracy in its name.  In other words, this guy is probably not too far removed from the guy who is sitting in his home where he hoards old newspapers, lines the walls with tin and sits quietly in the middle of the room in his only chair with his Smith and Wesson sitting on his lap while he reshapes one of his many tin foil hats.

The article went like this Diane Feinstein,  a Democrat Senator from California, had a secret meeting after the election where an unidentified source said that now she had won, that she could openly reveal her secret gun ban agenda.  Think about this she had a secret meeting to talk about how she could have a public discussion on gun banning.

Senator Feinstein is a long time gun control advocate. Her beliefs are anything but secret.  She did not hide this in her election either having been attacked for her views by famous conservative and former rocker Ted Nugent in late July.  She does indeed intend to re-introduce the assault rifle ban to the Senate.  It has been done before and even if the Senate passed it which is in itself as likely as being attacked by a polar bear in Arizaona, it would most likely not get past the Republican house.  It is a non-starter for the most part.  A number of Senators have even stated that the gun control battle is a lost cause.  They bring it up, but the gun control group continues to shrink in Congress.  The only likely discussion is to be one not about weapons but banning over-sized clips. Which is still likely to fail in the House.


During this conversation, one of the two announced that he wouldn't believe it if it weren't for all the executive orders.  Let me be as clear as I can.  A President's power does not exceed the limitations placed on him by the Constitution.  In other words he could issue all the executive orders he likes but if they violate the Constitution on say the second amendment, a court would spend about 30 seconds before putting a stop to it.  So I looked up this raft of executive orders...and other than a few very extreme sites like Beck's the Blaze, there has been not one executive order from the President involving guns.  NOT ONE.  If there is one, someone please point it out to me from a reputable sight.  In fact following the shooting of Gabby Gifford, Obama stated that we must be careful not to react and jump for too simple of explanation for the shooting.  In short, controlling guns would probably not stop the act.

I reiterate: NO ONE is COMING for YOUR GUNS!

In fact it's likely that you've been targeted.  I love the saying the gun control isn't about guns; it's about control. Well in this case it is about control.  Controlling gun owners into believing that the evil government is out there about to take their guns.  The fact is that many of the national gun control laws expired and there was little attempt to renew them when they did.  It was not politically prudent to do so.

Why tell folks that there is a secret Democrat plot to repeal the second amendment? The answer is two-fold. They are Money and Power.  If there is no threat to losing your guns, then the NRA, one of the largest and most powerful Washington lobbies, loses power.  Its kind of like if the Abortion issue went away, the Republicans would lose a big part of their base.  Secondly, if there is no need to protect guns, then there is no need to continue to pay NRA dues and money goes down until the NRA turns into the hunting organization offering hunter safety courses it once was.  So the NRA has to scare its membership into believing that they are going to lose guns and this gets the tin foil hat crowd on their side because they love a secret government conspiracy.  Its the same reason the Mitt Romney and company announced Jeep was moving to China from Ohio in the closing weeks of the campaign.  A pure act of desperation to scare people into voting Republican and overcome his OpEd piece on "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

Which brings us back to the very secret agenda of very public gun control activist Senator Diane Feinstein.  Use a little common sense folks.  A well-known anti-gun activist is not likely to have a secret meeting about a secret agenda that is told to us by an unknown secret stool pigeon. Senator Feinstien has been anything but secretive about her gun control agenda. YOU ARE BEING USED by a conservative lobby with a conservative agenda in an election year.  Do you get why they might want to start such a rumor if not out right lie?

REALITY CHECK time.  If you fail's your shiny, brand new, tin foil hat.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's get over it.

The image above -this is us; this is who we are.  It is not the rant that followsl

For the past several weeks, I've watched as meme after meme and patently false statements and those living in fear have posted those fears. It is time to quit living in fear and get a grip.

Obama won.  The world will not end.  He is not the Antichrist. He is as John McCain put it, "He's a decent family man [and] citizen..." He is a Christian.

Those of you who put up the meme about putting God back into the White House are not only being offensive in spreading the untruth about Muslims, which Obama is not, you are falling for the worst kind of hidden racism and if you are a true believer in the Constitution, then you know that we have a very clear vision by our founding fathers about the separation of church and state.  It is because of this that we have religious freedom, something that was sought by the Pilgrim settlers.  Get your beliefs straight. Let me state this one more time - Obama is a Citizen and he is not a Muslim and even if he were, being a Muslim is not a bad thing and is protected by the US Constitution!


Those of you who have the put the White in the White House. Really?  Did you make a wrong turn and miss your Klan rally? And those of you who use racial slurs, how sad your life must be.

As for those of you who posted the pictures of Obama without his hand over his heart or over the wrong side.

How can you buy that? The no pledge photo was taken but it is not during the Pledge. Just cause it is in an email does not make it true.  The wrong hand?  Please look at the marine in the background at the right. I know it's out of focus. Do you see his service ribbons on the LEFT side of his uniform?  Would a marine get the placement of ribbons wrong?  The photo is flipped.  Come on people, you own a computer.  DO SOME RESEARCH!

Now about them guns.

This mailer was sent out by the NRA and every fact check organization on the planet has rated it not just false but an out and out lie.  Remember if gun control goes away, then so does the base of one of Washington's most powerful lobbies and you have now played into it. Obama has signed one law on gun control and it expanded rights.  He has stated that we don't need AK47s on the streets.  Do you honestly disagree with this statement?  In fact on the one gun question about control during the debates, experts rated both Romney's and Obama's statements as attempts to avoid the question and a fail. Get real folks.  No one is coming for your guns, except maybe someone who wants to steal them and sell them on the streets now that they know you have them.

Those of you who are posting the Welfare memes...

Most of us who have been looking at these since Reagan's welfare queen statements know exactly what this is.  It is a racist statement that implies people want to be on welfare.  They don't want to be on welfare and there are plenty of folks on welfare who are not people of color. I don't know how much you think a helping hand costs or how much these folks get, but they are still well below the poverty level and many work at very menial, low paying jobs.  Have you no compassion?  One person last night actually announced the only social program she supported was Medicaid as she bemoaned Romney's loss.  As I've posted and has been made very clear by many a Republican, one of the first cuts they want to make is Medicaid.  PAY ATTENTION.

Please quit telling me things that are not true as well.  One person announced that we will now have 15% unemployment this summer.  And this figure came from where????  If that happens it will be in large part because CONGRESS failed to do what it needed to do to stop the "fiscal cliff."  Obama did not create and demand that we have sequester and then use his dictatorial power to make sequester.  CONGRESS agreed to this and that includes the Republican controlled house.

For those of you who posted opinion pieces from Rupert Murdoch's Washington Post.  Murdoch owns Fox news and guess what? Like MSNBC, they too are very biased.  An opinion piece in a conservative paper is not a good source. And posting from the Blaze, Glen Beck's personal mouth piece...really?

Come on people, you own a computer and obviously have access to the internet.  Go to a few sites that actually try to be nonpartisan.  Bloggers, like myself, are at best secondary sources and at worst, biased using bad information from bad and biased sources.  Former students of mine, you know better.  Get real and engage that grey matter a bit.

There are some memes out there that I cannot bring myself to post here.  They are just too despicable to even merit one more person giving them credence. I am tired of wackadoodle posts done without thought on the left and the right.

So Obama won and Romney lost.  If Romney had won and Obama lost, the world would not end either.

 It is time for you to delete these posts from your pages and heal.  Our country moves ahead when we look at each other. Civil discourse is an important process, but all presidents are our President not the president of the Republicans or Democrats, but the President of the UNITED States.  Do you know how many nations wish they could do what we just did?

We have two things to do.  Heal our great nation and restore Hope to our futures.  Your petty attacks will do neither.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A very short blog...

Please go vote, if you have not already done so.  Your voice matters!

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's Entertainment...

Okay, I know I promised to lay off the political rants, but then this came up and I just couldn't let it go by.

At what point does the news cease to be the news and become entertainment?

Back in the day of the Iran Hostage situation, the news program Nighline began with Ted Koppel asking "hard hitting" questions.  As things changed, so did the show.  It became pretty clear that it was becoming more and more entertainment and less news and a few years ago, newsmen Koppel left the show in favor of a series of alternating hosts who did largely what would be called fluff pieces and offering things like music that influenced musicians, chef's favorite meals, and ads for cable stations owned by the network's parent company.  It is just as true of late for other news progams like 20/20, Primetime and even occasionally 60 Minutes. 

Let's face it, many young viewers get news from John Stewart and history from movies.

How long can we prolong the closeness of the election when perhaps it would not be close at all if we continue to tell people it is?  I've come to the conclusion that there is no "liberal media" well except MSNBC and all the ones on the web and there is no "fair and balanced" of course that's been true for a long time in the case of FOXnews and all the ones on the web.  On the web, for many, the truth does not matter.  It only comes on what their favorite wackadoodle commentator tells them to think.

What there is though for the mainstream - ratings, sweeps week, and the ever present advertising dollar.  Imagine how little folks would be paying attention or how low our stress would be right now or how little super-pacs would be putting out for air wave dollars if one side or the other knew they were losing.

Why not confront the statements of the candidates when they lie? Because they might stop talking to the press? No, they need the press. Why not report on local and national news when the candidates twist, mislead, and play dirty?  They still need the press, but the press needs viewers and since most get their news from TV and not solid newspapers or web sources, the press need tension.  Tension sells.  Conflict sells.  The story sells. Any good writer will tell you, conflict makes the story.  Without conflict, the story dies.  Ads don't sell.  People don't tune in. Money is not made.

So why not report the truth of every national or state-wide ad over and over until the candidate pulls the ad? The answer is's entertainment.

The news calls it the reporting cycle.  They even know when a candidate is likely to try and slip something past them by doing it late on a Friday so the it is not "in the cycle."  And so they keep it close.  They ignore the stats and pay little attention to the hardcore statisticians like Nate Silver.  They fail to point out that when someone leads in every major poll for months, it is unlikely that they will lose.  They fail to point out that the "momentum" after the first debate lasted about a week.  Not so much momentum as bump returning the polls to the the race back to where they were before the convention "bump."  Before someone argues there was momentum, go back and look at the polls and see that after the bump of the debates, there was no consistent gain.  If there was truly momentum, then there should be gain every week. That's what momentum means.

And then there was the non-reported stories.  For months, for example, folks asked about taxes.  On October 29th, a  news group, Bloomberg figured out how much Romney paid.  Had it been reported by the nation TV news, it could have cost him dearly and if that happened the conflict could end.  It took Progressive and Democrat leaning on the web groups who finally found the story to report it.  I will readily admit that the web folks who finally found this story do sensationalize it a bit.

Bloomberg did this without breaking any laws.  They did it through the freedom of information act and what journalists are suppose to do, research, question and verify.  Not one national news group reported this finding.  And so the reporting, on Sunday, after the cycle, appears just 48 hours before the election.  Too late to hurt the tension and appearing on websites that most mainstream don't read.  If you want to know how little he paid then you can read the article.

And then there was the curious case of the pulling research done by the Congressional Research Center.  The Congressional Research Center is the "gold standard" of nonpartisan research.  It's job is to answer the questions of congress.  Then congress can do whatever they want with it.  Well someone asked the question - Does cutting taxes create jobs? The Research Center studied the question covering 65 years in the process and concluded that in fact there is zero correlation between tax cuts and the creation of jobs.  The rich get richer and the rest of us use it to pay off something or buy that new TV so we can watch the ads and feel the conflict.

Imagine though the effect of reporting such a story on the favorite talking point of every Republican and some Democrat candidates.  The notion that cutting taxes, supply side economics, show no significant boost to economy or jobs.  What would that do to the presidential campaign?  So, by questioning not the veracity of the report but its wording with a host of attacks from "Republican congressional staffers" the report was taken down off the website despite the recommendations that it stand from the center's economic leadership team.  The report, was by a little newspaper called the New York Times.  It's here

And this is the report Once on the web, it's always on the web.

How many of the regular news organizations, knowing the importance and impact that such a report would have, reported on this. None, it's entertainment.

You now know why you should do your own research.  Equity of reporting has nothing to do with it.  It all boils down to what will sell.  At a certain point, it's not's entertainment.