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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why Cats? The World of Social Media

Facebook and other social media are wondrous things. I am always amazed that we refer to these items as social media since there is a certain amount of irony in doing something social while sitting alone at a computer. Still, I like many others check my Facebook page and love the finding of old friends. I like many people love finding silly and entertaining memes and videos as well as following real time news during events such as the Boston bombings.  Okay, I admit it.  I am an FB junky.

Have you ever wondered what your actions, statements and status say about you? I know it's wrong to put folks into groups, but hey, it's what humans do.  If you don't like my groups, start your own blog or add them to the comments section. (I think this would be a good place for a passive/aggressive emoticon.)

If you want to know many a teenage girl give her a camera. Pictures will fill her Facebook page. They will be about her boyfriend, her new hairdo or just of her. If you want to know about many a teenage boy, pretty much the same thing will happen but in a much more “manly” fashion. Both will post song lyrics, poetry, and odd bits of philosophy. They will let you know especially when they are bored or depressed. Occasionally a boyfriend and girlfriend will set up a page together.  (A bit of advice on this idea.  Don't.  We all know who will run the page.)

Among the teenage group there will be at least one philosopher and one politician. They will both most likely think they are knowledgeable and smart despite their lack of background and experience. (passive/aggressive emoticon here)

If you want to know a new parent, his or her status is updated by the actions of the child, and the cover photo is seldom a picture of the parent.  It will become the eventual record with which many parents will use to embarrass the child when he or she comes of dating age. Grandparents have a slightly different cover photo.

If you want to know a college student, their pictures are more mature than they were in high school, but now they include parties and their status include occasional (or not so occasional) swearing because cussing makes you sound grown up. (High schoolers do this too.) The media has convinced them that this is how people talk. It is unfortunate that so many will continue to believe this to be true.  They will also occasionally wax philosophic and poetic.

There are also those folks who post things as if they are continuing a conversation. They are, but no one knows who they were talking to or what the conversation was about. Randomness is a mysterious thing. The middle of the conversation group have nothing on those who post things that make no sense. If they are relatively famous, though, people will pretend to get it.

There also folks who post nothing but memes and You Tube links. I don't know if they are trying to save stuff they find funny or are just too bored post anything else or are trying to entertain the rest of us. What is the fascination with cute fuzzy animals and labeling them with the most ludicrous statements?

There are the fools and the haters. Fools post every statement as if were fact. Haters are fools.

There are pages of groups, causes, and belief systems. There are those with their own agenda and some looking for an agenda. There are those who cannot accept anyone who does not believe what they believe.  There are fan pages and pages for seemingly no reason.  

If you want to know an egoist, they will have pictures of themselves while praising others. Some how, though the praise and accomplishments will somehow become about them.

If you want to know the celebrity or politician you cannot; their page is run by someone else most of the time.

If you want to know…a teacher, they will create pages for their classes and events, and revel in finding and friending students from years past and present. They will guffaw at the foolishness and thrill at the additions of new loves and new events.

Oddly, we all belong to some of these groups, although I hope not too many are Haters.

We will all will remember.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

This is the News?

So I watch a lot of news.  It is on TV in the background most days. As I've stated recently, I am also frequently disappointed by what passes for the news.  I know going in to watch a show like Piers Morgan, which I don't watch by the way, that I can expect ground shattering interviews with great minds like Lindsay Lohan (please take tongue and plant firmly in cheek). I mean the guy was a scandal journalist and a judge on American Idol.  What I don't want to see is a true news program used in the same manner. But alas, they are.

On Sundays, I watch This Week and Meet the Press, unless one of them has been preempted by something exciting like golf (please take tongue and plant firmly in cheek). These two shows are political current events show.  They are suppose to discuss the week events and interview both sides of the political aisle. While they seldom challenge idiocy on either left and right, they do at least try to live up to the idea they are politically oriented.

And then it happened...well, it's not actually the first time I've seen it, but the first time I've written about it.  On This Week, we had a riveting discussion with the creators of Homeland about season three.  I've not watched Homeland, but I've heard it is good.  Not the point.  It is that a political news show was used blatantly for promotion. What is interesting (please take tongue and plant firmly in cheek) is that ABC who does This Week is owned by Disney and Showtime who does Homeland is owned by CBS.  I suppose that cross-promotional might be interesting unless, of course, it makes one think about how little difference there is between networks these days.

As I've said, this isn't new.  I know that Chris Matthews promoted Silver Linings Playbook. Other shows promoted Lincoln and had Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln inspired the movie Lincoln, as a frequent  as a guest commentator during the election.  Still, the proliferation of promotional pieces of interviewing movie stars for their perspective on the political situation in the Middle East is about as useful as interviewing me about the life and times of Michael Jackson.  I do understand the importance of Silver Linings Playbook being on Hardball (please take tongue and plant firmly in cheek).

Maybe Piers will find out what Lindsay Lohan thinks about drug policy (please take tongue and plant firmly in cheek)....

Friday, May 24, 2013

Please Pick a Poison

The Department of Justice actively monitored 3 Fox News staffers - this included reading personal emails! LIKE if you agree Obama’s thugs are out of control!!

And this week's Facebook meme is this lovely thing.  We will ignore the crosshairs and that it's Fox News.  What is particularly interesting is the caption that comes with it.  It is true that it is has come out that other agency's besides the AP were caught have had records subpoenaed, but it was not in relation to the AP sweep.  There were other accounts looked at by the Justice Department in relation to Fox reporter, James Rosen.  The story may be found here. This investigation goes back to 2009 and Rosen may also face charges, but given what he reported, it is probably doubtful.  I know there are a number of stories from Fox, but they are more or less reporting on a story of which  they would hardly be fair judges. All that aside, the emails were obtained by lawful subpoena by the DOJ.  If you don't like the use of these subpoena, I suggest you talk to your congressman, because congress expanded the power of the DOJ following 9/11.  The same is true for the AP scandal, by the way. It's called the Patriot Act.

Anywho, the inaccuracy of the meme is not what caught my eye.  It was the "Obama thugs" in the caption that caught my notice.  Let's not let the facts about the separation of investigation by DOJ and the Whitehouse get in the way in this case since the DOJ was instructed by Congress to plug leaks too.  I've seen the thug thing before.  I just wish one of these groups would pick one idea.  He's a socialist.  With the rise of the stock market and the free market, Obama is the worst socialist ever.  He's arrogant.  Obviously this is true since he refuses to bend to the will of the House.  He is weak.  True since no one will let any of his agenda actually come up for a vote, no matter how much good it will do.  He and his friends are Chicago thugs. He is a tyrant.  Weak, tyrant or thug? Pick one please.  Maybe we just need a meme that goes Obama is a weak, thuggish, arrogant, tyrannical, socialist. Oh shoot...

I forgot foreigner and Muslim.   

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hello. I'm Trite and You Are?

If I hear, the devil's in the detail one more time...

From the left to right, politicians, pundits, and news reporters seem to all have the same phrasebook.  It doesn't seem to matter what they are discussing.  They are discussing immigration. The problems they face are of course with "the devil's in the details." They are discussing background checks, and the problem is that "the devil's in the details."  Is it any wonder that no one has a good solution on a political show.  They have zero clue what the details are.

Speaker Boehner announces that the President "Just doesn't get it." He does this on a seemingly daily basis.  The problem is, we all do get it.  That you, Mr. Speaker, don't get is that just because your political philosophy isn't something that the President actually does get.  He chooses to see things differently.  You, Mr. Speaker, don't get it do you or do you think we are really that dense?  I know it riles the base and keeps the extremes on your side, but at some point you have to realize the extreme base is costing you more centrist votes.

"Let me be clear,"  is an oldie but goody.  No thank you.  I already see through your slant.  I don't need you be less visible.  We all know you want to actually make it as murky as possible.  You are already two dimensional.  Just turn sideways.

The issue is "unprecedented." That is until you look it up and see all the other times this issue was "unprecedented." Come on folks, do your research. Benghazi is not new.  Gun control is not new. Border protection is not new. Immigration is not new.  The debt ceiling is not new.  Small government vs. big government is not new.  Gerrymandering is not new. Isn't there something about those who fail to study history...  "Unprecedented"? Really?

"People will vote their conscience."  While this is a nice thought, then how can we have single issue voters or folks who "vote the party line"? If it were true, gerrymandering would not work.  A bunch of politicians and pundits on the left and right hope this statement isn't true.

"We must look to the future."  Try looking to the now.  We cannot know what will happen in the future.  I read once that the only persons more inaccurate than psychics are futurists.  If we solve problems now, then we are "looking to the future."

How about "we will put children first" or "this is our children's future" or "we will leave no children behind."  Lip service is the worst of all catch phrases.  If this were true, we would make sure every child had the best education and not cut money for things like head start or class size or any education funding.  College would be free.  We would protect our young instead of worrying about our NRA rating. We would have safe shelters in every school.  We would hold everyone accountable for a child's education, protection, and care.  We would have zero malnutrition.  You don't care about children unless it suits your purposes.

Sorry for this rant, but I just wish they would come up with something new.  I am tired of the current crop of phrases.  What ones are you tired of?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

No Place Like Home

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Maybe folks have just forgotten about the great  lady standing in the New York Harbor, but there is a reason America is referred to as a "nation of immigrants."

Okay so there is, and has been for some time, a movement that seems to think people who don't speak English don't belong here.  At no point in American history has there ever been just one language, and quite honestly, we don't speak English but a dialect of English. Add to this the number of American dialects, and  English can get kinda tricky, even among native speakers. 

 About 82 percent of Americans speak English. There is a plethora of languages spoken in this country.  If you want to see the breakdown, here is one place you can look. I should point out that in 2011 there were 62 million foreign tourists, foreign tourists spent 168.1 billion dollars last year,  and this year, foreign tourists have already spent 14.4 billion dollars in the US as of March.  While many probably do speak English-I don't know the same could be said for American tourists traveling overseas- I would think we might be a bit more welcoming.  Don't get me wrong, I believe that it is a wise idea if you are going to change your citizenship that you learn the most common language. As anyone who has tried to learn a new language knows, however, this is very difficult. 

But some of the signs, like the one above, actually harkens back to a another kind of sign. 

This particular sign was one that was posted in many a town particularly the South. They were found  in white neighborhoods.   It was quite simple.  If you weren't white, you weren't welcome.  For some, the "speak English" movement is quite simply veiled racism of the past.  But then again, you have to wonder if some of the folks demanding "speak English" actually do.

There was this protest sign from the last election (not really a "speak English" sign, but I thought it was funny).

Oh, yes he does have a birth certificate despite what the Donald thinks.  There was also this sign about speaking English.

But one of the winners for the speak English is this city sign.

One must just wonder why every house doesn't just put this out on the step. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

There Are Just Some Pictures You Shouldn't Share

I don't know about you, but I do know there are just some pictures you shouldn't share, no matter how proud you are.  I am not talking about pictures that clearly demonstrate you are inebriated or picture of you in less clothes than you should be wearing.  Those kind of pictures go without saying, and if you post them, you get exactly the reputation and possible job loss you deserve.  I am not talking about smooching pictures which clearly demonstrate your maturity level nor am I talking about those profile pictures that make you look like a total moron even though you think you are being incredibly artsy.  Some of those are kinda fun.

No, the pictures to which I am referring are the ones that only you want to see.  I really don't care nor do I particularly want to see ultrasound pictures of your new baby.  Don't get me wrong, I will be thrilled to learn that you are expecting but let me put it this way, for the most part, ultrasounds look pretty much the same as do most fetuses.  I should point out that in most of these pics you can't really tell which is the baby and which is background noise.  They are just slightly more interesting than the X-ray of your ribs.  Okay, maybe more exciting than watching bowling, golf, or poker on TV, but really, they are a black and white or gray scale pictures which means little to anyone but you.  Email them to the grandparents and call it good.

This brings me to the next point. Someone once said that all pregnant women are beautiful.  They have the glow of motherhood about them.  The creation of life is one amazing miracle. That said, however, no one wants to see how big your bare belly has become suddenly appear on their Facebook timeline or in the Twitter feed.  Yes, all pregnant women are beautiful, but that does not mean we want to see you in a bikini or your bare bellied self-portrait taken in the bathroom mirror.  It is the equivalent to the way most men look in a Speedo. If you want folks to see how you're progressing, leave your shirt down.  We will all still get the point.

Would someone please tell me what is the deal with puckered or "pouty" lips.  I first saw it on models.  If these "fish lips" or "duck face" as the YOLO crowd calls them doesn't look good on models, why on earth would you think it looks good, sexy or even remotely anything short of clownish on you?  The other one that is just dopey is the one with your tongue out or where you are pretending to lick the other person in the pic.  Welcome to junior high all over.  Stop it.  Just stop it.

I don't want to see pictures of your wound, bruises, pimples, stitches, or any other boo-boo you have.  I am not your doctor or your parent or a sixth grade buddy who is going to take one look and go, "Ewwwww..gross."  It is and  I don't want to see it anymore than you want to see me digest.

Yes, I want to see all those cute pics of your kids.  Yes, I want to see the snow on your lawn furniture or the wonders of hail in your backyard. While your pictures of empty beer bottles or five gallon drums of popcorn or home brew or stacks of boxes are a bit eclectic, and I don't mind those, even if they are something of a waste of bandwidth.  I do occasionally question the pictures of your first attempt at cordon-bleu which looks vaguely like a fish stick. I know it may have tasted good, but you might want to consider more practice with your camera.

All I am asking is you use a bit of common sense, a rare quality in short supply it seems these days.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I Miss Walter

Walter Cronkite
Whatever happened to the news.  I mean real news. What passes for real journalism between MSNBC on the left and Fox on the right, is not the news. It seems to me that reporters spend more time making the news than reporting on it.  Ever watch a press conference at the White House.  Far too many of the reporters ask questions which are clearly worded for their agenda or questions that will keep some non-existent "scandal" going. They seem to live in fear that if they call a politician on the baloney he is spewing, they will never get another interview. Newsmen of the past didn't hesitate and didn't take sides, but they relied on something that seems to be missing these days: facts, history, science and integrity.

There are occasional attempts by modern mainstream media but generally it seems more likely to be about ratings than news.  Don't believe me?  Ask Barbara Walters about how her interviews of world leaders were steadily directed to become more and more about celebrities for ratings. She went from interviewing Moammar Gadhafi to interviewing Oprah.

Mike Wallace
Before hard hitting journalists who were more interested in getting their own talk shows like Katie and Anderson, politicians once lived in fear of a phone call that started with, "Mike Wallace has questions for you."  This was before ambush journalism became the norm for salacious news and actually had a purpose. It was used when people wouldn't talk to the journalist not just so the "reporter" could surprise them and make them look guilty.

David Brinkley and Chet Huntley
Walter Cronkite was called "the most trusted man in America."  We got straight talk from David Brinkley and Chet Huntley.  Roger Mudd could look at us through the lens of a camera, and we knew we weren't receiving bull but the straight dope. Even before these television giants of journalism, there was the man they patterned their presentation after.  He was Edward R. Murrow. In honor of Murrow there is even an award for journalistic excellence named for him.  Too bad the award is give to our modern examples of a journalist.

Edward R. Murrow.
Murrow brought down McCarthy and not by some sensational story or carefully phrased question, but through factual questions.  In other words, he called him on his hate filled, politically driven agenda. Now a group in Texas thinks they should build text books that imply there was a Red Stain in the 50's.  Who is calling them out on this?  Who is calling the right out their refusal to actually do their job? Who is calling the left out on their spin on the IRS abuse of power? Who is calling out Congress for the AP "scandal" when they voted to make sure it could happen? I've heard only one newsman actually say that both right and left have jumped to "scandal" before stopping to think it might be incompetence. Incompetence is far more likely to have caused a problem.

Roger Mudd
Where is the nightly news who calls out the Senator complaining about the lack of security for our consulates and embassies when that senator voted for massive cuts in that security?  What news agency has asked where the WMDs were for Iraq and why exactly so much of the "intelligence" actually was in conflict with what much of the intelligence community believed?  Why does no one notice that we have millions of malnourished children and the House voted for the 37th time to repeal  The Affordable Care Act?  What news organization has pointed out that if our Representatives and Senators put as much effort into streamlining and implementing healthcare, they might actually accomplish something than meaningless votes while the Job Act has never even had a vote?   Where is the national news reporters talking about gerrymandering to take away our power as citizens or the continuing attempts to take away the votes from millions? What mainstream media is doing an expose on the extreme conspiracy sites that do nothing but spew hate, lies and just plain stupidity?  Where are the questions about so called tax exempt welfare groups on both the right and left who are clearly political? Is what some movie star does really news?

No the scandal is not in Benghazi or the IRS or AP having phone records taken or any other imagined scandal on the left or right.  The scandal is the failure of Congress to do their job for the people.  The scandal is no one challenges these factually challenged elected officials about their lies and talking from both sides of their mouths.  The scandal is that our news is more interested in what Clint Eastwood or George Clooney or Brangelina are doing.

I miss the most trusted man in America.  I miss Walter.

Friday, May 17, 2013

It Is an Adjective

I don't care where you stand on immigration.  Odds are pretty good, you descended from one.  I do, however, want to point something out.  People are not illegal. They may be here illegally, but being a person is not illegal.  Illegal is an adjective. Adding a "s" to illegal does not make it a noun. It makes you appear idiotic. Illegal means "not according to or authorized by law."  In most countries in the world, being a person is not unauthorized by law. People are legal.

It is your choice if you don't want to learn a foreign language for your undocumented worker.  There is going to be a couple of problems with this. Don't expect them understand you because to them you too are speaking a foreign language.  The other problem is that you knowing hired an undocumented worker.  Congratulations on admitting to a violating a Federal law.  You will still be idiotic after they are deported, but you, if prosecuted, could receive fines and jail time.  One builder who knowingly hired undocumented workers in Kansas now faces, if convicted, fines of up to $250,000 and 20 years in jail.  So now you are now a convicted boss who didn't get the work done he could have because he and his undocumented workers spoke different languages.

Makes perfect sense.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness Is a Great Ride

I've waited patiently and avoided all the fan boy sites trying to avoid the spoilers and did pretty well.  I should point out for any who don't know me, I am a huge Star Trek fan, especially the original series.  So you can accuse me of bias or you can possibly look at it that a true fan is going to be more critical.  Take your pick.

I saw Star Trek Into Darkness at a fan preview in Imax 3D.  Let me tell you, going to warp speed in 3D is really cool.  I am not going to give away any spoilers except one, and it has nothing to do with the movie.  As you watch the movie, look at the transporter officer.  His name is Christopher Doohan.  He is the son of James Doohan, the original Scotty. There will be no revealing of surprises or the much discussed names of villain, although it really makes little difference to the movie if you know.

Star Trek Into Darkness is awesome.  We get more character interaction and a stronger dialog than the first movie. It captures the wit and adventure of Star Trek and captures a strong theme about war mongering and the corruption of power.  It is not just one space fight or how many special effects can we jam into a single shot. The movie also has enough homage paid to the original series to make us Trekkies thrill with delight.   The trademark lens flare of the first movie is still used. Personally I like it. The only thing I wish they hadn't tampered with was the transporter effect.  I miss the glitter swirled-in-water effect. Ahh, well progress.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a perfect bad guy.  While Chris Pine is a great Kirk and Zoe Sadana a good Uhura, it is Zachary Quinto's and Keith Urban's playing of Spock and McCoy that really have captured original characters.  It is always fun to watch Simon Pegg who has impeccable comedic timing. Anton Yelchin and John Cho round out the cast and also get to have some memorable fun with their namesakes.  If the characterization continues to be worked on in the plotlines, there is no reason not to expect this cast to reach the same iconic level that other actors have in the Star Trek and science fiction realm.

Is Into Darkness potentially the greatest of the summer season? I don't know.  I haven't seen them yet.  It is, however, one of the strongest Trek movies yet made.  A friend of mine put it this way: "I may have to rethink my favorite movie order of Star Trek."

So if you're looking for something that is truly fun, action packed, and just a good time go see Star Trek Into Darkness.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sooner or Later, We All End Up on the Opposite Side of the Fence

A young friend of mine who is  liberal, a proud progressive in point of view, posted this the other day.  This cartoon ignited a firestorm of  comments about how there are fewer young than old and how they are now not only put upon to pay tremendous college debt but support all us old fogeys and our social security.  Now let me state for the record, unless I decide to work outside of the state system at least ten years to earn the minimum payment, I will never receive Social Security.  I am not old enough for Social Security either.  So you are not paying for me.  

My point here is not that Social Security is currently fluid.  Nor will I point out that Congress has raided the Social Security Trust and that is actually why it is not in better shape. According to CBS Money Watch, "The truth is that in prior years, Social Security taxes collected from workers added up to more than the amount of benefits paid to retirees" Nor will I point out that I have college loans for my kids and my wife to pay for. You aren't the only ones, young folks, that still have college loans.  Nor will I point out that for a middle class family the cost to raise a child from birth to age 18 in 2012 was estimated to be $235,000 to $390,000.

No my point is that the one group that really wants to alter and cut Social Security are Republican politicians.  They want the safety net gone.  They would love to find a way to make Social Security a voucher and privatized program so they can use the rest of the trust fund.  They're politicians.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul is what they do.  In case you don't get it, supporting this cartoon puts a liberal point of view squarely on the Right's side of the fence. Before you are too embarrassed, I will also point out that according to many a recent polls many older Republicans want Social Security protected putting them squarely on the Left's side of the fence because they want the social safety net.

Sooner or later we all end up on the opposite side of the fence we thought we were on.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Throwing Up, Labor Pains and High School...Let's Go to The Movies

My wife says it's us.  I say it's Hollywood. My wife is really annoyed by scenes involving women in labor.  It is to say the least almost always melodramatic.  I, on the other hand, could go happily the rest of my life without watching another actor pretend to throwup or I suppose if the actor is Method, actually throwup.  We could both do without watching another actor pretend or not (again Method) to urinate.

Come on, Hollywood.  It's not realistic. It's cheap. It has nothing to do with the plot.  It has now been done so many times, it is far from creative but a "bag of trick" sort of acting and directing.  "Oh my, look.  He is so upset he threw up." or "Wow, is he cool.  He stops to pee just like the rest of the population of the world."

How about, "I have never seen the pain of such excruciating magnitude until I watched Glenn Close give birth to what must be at least a 30 pound bowling ball." I actually see my wife's point.  I was in the labor room for both my children and my wife certainly never acted like any woman I've ever seen giving birth in the movies.

This brings me to another point.  Has anyone in Hollywood actually ever been to a real high school?  I taught in high school for over 30 years.  I've been in more schools than most regular folks have ever been.  I am not referring to movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but movies which pretend to be real schools.  Why are all principals apparently evil and bald? Why is there that one kid who roams through the hall with a group of lackeys publically terrorizing at will? Why is there always two or three couples caught in eternal lip lock leaning against the protagonist's locker? Does any one in these schools ever go to class? Why is every teenager in the movies either very witty, incredibly dumb or, worst of all, angst ridden?

Is it just me or is the guy in the tee shirt like a little old for
high school?
What few of these views of schools are is real.  We all want Robin Williams for a teacher so we can stand on our desk defiantly or to have Spiderman go to our school taking out bullys, but both are a long ways from reality.  Why are all the teachers either incredibly cool or incredibly inept, except that one guy with the bean bag chairs and guitar? As a teacher, there were days I was incredibly cool, and there were also days when I was lame.  I am human.  Schools can be great places and no so great places, but I have never seen ones that exist in the minds of a Hollywood writer anywhere except on the screen.

Great movies are created not from a bag of tricks.  Pretending to be in labor or peeing or throwing up does not make characters more real or human.  It only makes it look like there is a shortage of creative writing and great actors in the industry.  Character moves plot and always start with what you know.  What made Fast Times work is we all knew a Mr. Hand or Spicoli in a very make believe school that wasn't ever intended to be realistic, but for the most part, Hollywood wouldn't recognize a real school or teen  or teacher if they walked in with a video of a real school populated by real teens and teachers.

My point is don't believe the hype. It seems to me is too many folks seem to think what these folks are doing is reality.  It isn't.  It is still fiction.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Printer...My Gun?


Have you been paying attention? This is one that no one is quite sure how to handle. How do you control a gun that cannot be read by scanner or x-ray?  Technically the law proscribes that any gun made of plastic must have a metal piece placed in it so that it can be detected since the only other metal part it requires is the firing pin which is not actually big enough to show up on a metal detector.  Up until now, plastic guns were manufactured with this required feature.

Dita Von Tease models the first 3-D printed dress which
which comes complete with shoes.
Then along came this gun.  The picture above is a gun that was printed.  It has by the way all the required elements of an inserted metal plate, but there is a problem.  Any one can own a 3-D printer. Any one can print a gun at home.  Printer is actually something of a misnomer for what it does.  A 3-D printer actually layers in materials like plastic to a proscribed pattern making whatever is designed.  Theoretically, a 3-D printer could be used to layer in organic tissue to make anything from food to human organs for transplant.  It is just a matter of time.  It is an amazing technology.

Until recently, the 3-D printer was out of the price range of most everyone starting at a cost of $10,000 on the low end with printing material kits starting around $500 per kit.  This is no longer true.  While they are still pricey, a low end 3-D printer which can make an object 5.5 inches by 5.5 inches costs around $1500 with a kit that will print about 12 cell phone bodies costing around $50.  I do not know what size of printer one needs for the gun.
New Balance introduces a line of 3-D printed shoes.

So what is one of the first things someone comes up with? A gun.  As they say, only in America.  There have, of course been other things printed like a dress, shoes and even a car.   It is, though, the weapon that creates the problem. Gun Control advocates have no idea how to control a weapon.  The blue print for the gun was downloaded several hundred thousand times before it was taken down by National Security.  Folks on the anti-gun control side, except for a few extremists, also realize the profound problem it is for someone who can print the gun and leave out its metal piece.  It can be carried anywhere.  It is a true security threat.  There is of course the one thing they haven't printed, yet - plastic shells and bullets.  Not far behind, I am sure.

A 3-D printed car, called the Urbee
I, honestly, have no idea how we can control such a weapon.  It is now another danger which we must live with, I guess.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Iron Man 3 Meet Tony Stark

Robert Downey Jr. turns in the character of Tony Stark that we have come to love: snappy patter, brutally honest, and always with a twinkle in his eye.  Gwyneth Paltrow as pepper Potts has a much stronger and better defined role as new CEO of Stark Industries and as Tony's actual girlfriend.   We now get more of Iron Man's classic back up pal War Machine now renamed Iron Patriot.  What will make 3 and at the same time may disappoint a few is that this movie is not about the suit.  It is not about Tony in the suit.  It is not action sequence after action sequence.  It is about Tony Stark.

Stark faces the Mandarin, a favorite villain in Iron Man lore, a terrorist who is attacking and killing in the US. His destruction of Stark's in home lab leaves Tony to investigate on his own while trying to protect the people he cares about.  In other words, we get to see more of Tony Stark's character than probably any other of the movies in the franchise.  Shane Black is a first time director for the Marvel world, but having worked with Downey in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he clearly understands Downey's skills as an actor.  

Don't get me wrong.  There is plenty of slick action sequences and the clever dialog we've come to expect from Iron Man.  Stan Lee does make his cameo appearance. I'll let you figure out where. And  there is a fun Easter Egg after the credits.  Sorry if you left before the credits rolled.  Still, though what makes this one different is not the villain, Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley who is unquestionably one fine actor, it is the storyline and character.  Great plot is driven by great character and any comic book fan will tell you a great comic is not just one issue but the growth and cannon of the work.  Iron Man 3 gives us this.

Does it always work? No.  Are there a few extraneous plot points? Yes.  As a comic book, action hero movie which is really Act 4 for the Iron Man Character (including the Avengers) It's good solid fun with solid effects.  I'll by the DVD. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Award Winning Essay...Really???

So...this past week on my Facebook timeline  there was a couple of "student" essays all award winners or A+ posted by the few, the proud, the under researched.  One award winning essay from a home schooler discussed those horrible government agencies. Agencies like the Nation Education Association.  That's right, the NEA is a Federal Government institution. I don't know how to tell you this, but the NEA is actually one of the two education unions in the US.  The other is the American Federation of Teachers or AFT.  Award was for what...poorly researched?

Then along came the A+ essay about how prayer and the pledge are no longer done in school.  The "essay" was not an essay in any format I've seen.  So an A+ for what? Alleged accuracy?  I've done this before, but one more time for the slow ones out there.  Most states have some form of a requirement for the Pledge of Allegiance.  Here is the link to that blog for the exact listing.

Next, prayer is not prohibited in school.  What is prohibited is the teaching of religion or school led prayer.  It is a violation of the Constitution.  You recall the Constitution?  I know that the only amendment that is sacrosanct is the 2nd amendment, but there is another that guarantees freedom of religion, and that's not freedom of only your religion.

The Supreme Court has made it pretty clear what schools and other public institutions can and cannot do when it comes to ensuring religious freedom. You probably missed the ruling in 1948 of McCollum v. Board of Education Dist.71 found "religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional." You may have also missed Engel v Vitale a landmark case in 1962 that held "any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion." Or perhaps you didn't see Abbington School District v. Schempp in 1963 that held "Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional" and Murray v. Curlett, also in 1963, which held "forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional."

As far as not allowing students to pray or read the Bible there is another landmark case, Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) ruled "Students do not leave their rights at the schoolhouse door." There are some limitations  like  Schempp that applies to students leading prayer over the loud speaker  which is covered by  in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe in 2000.

Please remember, that your religion is not the only religion., and it took me about two minutes to find these Supreme Court cases.

 By the way, the blog on that one is here.

So here is just a little thought, try actually verifying something rather than just passing it on. Try getting your facts from some place that is not an agenda driven site or from just something from Facebook and Twitter.  Dumb is dumb and passing this dumb stuff only make you look dumb.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's the Internet, Dummy.

Facebook is not a diary kept under lock and key.  Twitter is very public. How many times have you heard on the news of some person who has lost a job because they posted racy pictures on Twitter or Tumblr. They lost a job because they went on a rant about their employer and yes, they have first amendment protection to say it, and the employer has first amendment protection to respond -- negatively.  I actually don't have much sympathy for these folks and their poor decision making.

I'm not talking about celebrities like Gilbert Gottfried who tweeted jokes following the Japan tsunami and lost his job as the Aflak duck. In all honesty, Aflak got what they deserved.  The man has no filters. What did the expect?

So many live their lives online tweeting and posting and Instagramming their every move.  I joked once that a friend of mine must be ill because he had only posted pictures and status 25 times that day instead of his usual 45 or 50 posts.  I know I can fall into that trap too posting mindless status reports that no one really wants to see, but I would like to think most of my posts may be something that will entertain or perhaps cause a bit of thought. I hope that perhaps others would do the same, and I try to do it with out vulgarity.

I know many of you probably don't think twice about cussing around your friends, but does every post need a swear word for emphasis?  Has our ability to communicate become so poor that we can only construct a post of 140 characters? Is it really necessary to put the word f***ing in the title of every page? "I love Effing science," or "I hate Effing  everything" are just two pages I've seen.  If it weren't for the title, I would love to like the science page, but I really don't need yet another swear word floating into my time line.   As it is, I won't even share that page's information because I don't want to offend someone with its title.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not commenting on literature or social comedy that use swearing for the purpose creating a certain kind of reality. I am referring to people who curse just because they can and seem to think that anyone who finds it offensive is wrong to comment.  I know the folks in Hollywood go on talk shows and cuss up a storm giving the censors a work out, but as Craig Ferguson, also a comedian with no filters, pointed out intelligence and talent do not go hand-in-hand.  I would point out that if it were so okay there wouldn't be censors.  If you are using these folks as your example that swearing is okay, you might want to reconsider who exactly it is you are using as your example.  They aren't pushing the envelope, they just aren't necessarily the bright.

Yes, I know.  I sound like least hip person you know, but I don't measure my coolness by the number of times I can swear and show how grown up I am.  I am also not trying to be a moral compass here. There are things I am not proud of, but I don't post them for billions of strangers to view, and I do not think my language should be the reason someone is offended.  My point here is that this is the internet, dummy.  You may be posting for specific friends, but the fact is we all get to see it, and we all get to deal with it, and it is forever online.  I am also one of those people who when I see someone who swears, I automatically think this person lacks the ability to make any kind of reasonable point.

When you rant about gun control or Obama or Tea Party or Socialists or that movie you vehemently disliked and then punctuate your point of view with swear words you are only saying you have neither a cogent argument or that you lack the support for any argument you might have. You also seem immature calling people vulgar names or even made-up names "Dumbocrap: or "Repuke" instead of Democrat or Republican. You may think you're being witty and clever, but take my word for it, you're not.

So next time you want to share, rant, or name your page, stop for a moment and ask yourself:

Will my employer or future employers see this? Will the college I am applying for see this? How many folks who you like might be offended? Would you really want your mom or grandma to see this?  Would your children be proud of you? Do you want your kids saying that? Do I really need this word? How many people get to see this that I really don't want to see this?  Does it make me look like a moron?

Am I really such a moron that I don't get the placement of this on the internet is forever?

Answer "yes" to just one question, then don't post it because if you do anyway, it does make you look like a moron.

The internet has no delete button.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do We Forgive Mary Sanford?

Congratulations to Mark Sanford on winning his seat in the House.  We forgive the former
governor of South Carolina for his Appalachian  trail trip, which was actually a cover for his tryst with his mistress when he disappeared from public view and was in South America.  Progressives are, of course, appalled by this win of someone who left his wife for another woman.  Conservatives point out rightly that Sanford is engaged to the other woman and that she is the love of his life.  We should forgive him.

I know nothing of Sanford's politics.  I don't know if he is a Tea Party Conservative or Centrist Republican.  I do know that winning the seat was no great feat in a district that has voted  Republican for about 30 years.

I also know he did it without money from the National Republican Committee who pulled their funding and a very lukewarm endorsement for the Speaker of the House.  But we should forgive him for his very human indiscretion.  Hey, we forgave Bill Clinton.  True he was impeached but it failed.

There are other politicians we have forgiven, and a few not so much.  We forgave not only Bill Clinton but others as well.  We may forgive General Petraeus although the jury is still out on that one, but it is looking more likely.  No one really ever hated Governor Swartzenegger.  He went back to making movies.  I don't think we forgave Thad Viers for his affair, but he has never really tried to make a comeback.  We did forgive Newt Gingrich for his many indiscretions. I seriously doubt that anyone will ever forgive John Edwards for his affair while his wife was dying, or Anthony Weiner for tweeting graphic pictures, but he has tried.  Generally speaking, though we do tend to forgive our all too human politicians when they try to make a comeback.  I cannot say what we would do for the ones who haven't tried to make a comeback.

Still I have to wonder, given how close Sanford's win is how much forgiveness would we have for Governor Mary Sanford who lied and had an affair with her boy toy in Brazil? How forgiving would be for General Diana Petraeus for her affair while commanding overseas?  Who exactly do we forgive?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Presidential Run from Canada?

Here's one for Birthers.  Ted Cruz the Republican Freshman Senator from Texas is a Tea Party favorite.  He has been called already the most hated man in the Senate and is actually proud of comparisons made between him and Senator Joe McCarthy.

You may remember McCarthy from your history class as the Senator who went on a modern day witch hunt with his Committee on UnAmerican Activities as he accused without any proof person after person  of being a Communist and played on the Red Stain and fears of Communist Pinkos. By the way, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but even Communism and Socialism are protected by the Constitution.  Not saying I agree with either philosophy, just saying that whole freedom thing gets in the way.  But I digress...

Ted Cruz has spread some pretty stunning rumors during his first few months in the Senate.  He stated that Chuck Hagel received money from the North Korea and that there were at least 12 communist professors at Harvard Law when he was a student there.  He has played the ideological Republican purist card.  It has endeared him to the far Right conservative movement and created problems for the Republican establishment.  He has even received a rebuke from John McCain who called him a "wackobird." In other words, rumor is he is planning on a possible run for president.

So why might this be interesting for the Birthers who swear that their attacks on Obama have no basis in racism? It is because Cruz was not born in this country. His father is an immigrant citizen and his mother an American.  Sound at all familiar?  Cruz's parents who worked in the oil industry, were in Canada when he was born.  He was not born on an America military base as was John McCain, but born in Canada.  When asked about this, Cruz has responded that he would let others sort that out. So here is my question Birthers:  Will you attack and go after Cruz with the same vehemence as you have Obama?  If not, then maybe you need to question your real reasons for doubting Obama's birth place. There is no question, by the way, Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada. 

I am only asking this of Birthers.  Ted Cruz is, I think, a "natural born citizen" despite being born outside the country, although there is debate among scholars about what is meant by "natural born" in the Constitution. If, however, Birthers do not hold Cruz to the same standard they have held Obama, it is going to be quite clear that Birthers are driven by something other than legality of Obama's birth.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Historical Rewrite

Michelle Bauchmann, former Presidential candidate and member of the House, took to the floor the other day to announce how awful the Sequestration is because it "breaks everyone's heart" to see services like Head Start and Meals on Wheels cut.   She announced, “There were numerous Republicans that voted against the sequestration because we knew all of these calamities were in the future. And so it reminds me of the Shakespeare line: ‘Thou protestest too much.’ Didn’t you know this was going to happen? We knew it. That’s why we voted against this bill.” Besides clearly demonstrating her lack of knowledge of Shakespeare by not only misusing but butchering a quote from Hamlet, which is about someone who is guilty denying that guilt by declaring their innocence too loudly, Ms. Bauchmann is also lying.  There is no other way to put it.  She is ignoring the truth. She does, in fact, protest too much.

It is true that she voted against the Sequestration. Not, however, for the above reason.  It is pretty well documented that she voted against the sequestration not because of the impact it would have on children in Headstart or the numbers of elderly going hungry as Meals on Wheels is cut back. She voted no because it didn't cut enough. In fact after the passage of the Budget Control Act she said “We needed real cuts and a fundamental restructuring in the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars to solve the spending crisis we are in. Someone has to say NO to more spending. I will." There is not a single statement she made at the time that she felt for those that coming "calamities."

The problem is not just Bauchmann ignoring what she actually did.  The problem there seems to be a movement afoot to not just ignore history but to rewrite it.  It is common enough among many a politician both Democrat and Republican to try an rewrite their own history, but it is also becoming common where it shouldn't be.

Take for example the new history of Texas Board of Education.  As one of the largest textbook purchasers in the USA, the new history could literally alter history taught in the nation.  Want some examples? Try these. Thomas Jefferson's role is down played as a founding father removing him from history standard.  The change questions the idea of the separation of church and state as being a belief of the founders and the Constitution. The change would also state the US government was, in fact, infiltrated by Communists during the Cold War making Joe McCarthy a hero instead of a zealot who saw Communists everywhere.  The new history would also include emphasis on the rise of the Conservative movement but have little to no discussion on Liberal movements.

Another example is in the new Bush Library which glosses over the Iraq war and the reasons we were given by ignoring the original statements that there was a link to Iraq and AlQueda or the search for non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Iraq war is in fact handled under the general title of the War on Terror.

Once upon a time there as a writer who warned us of historical rewrites.  His name was George Orwell and the folks who created unpersons worked at the Ministry of Truth.  In the spirit of the new history rather than the warning Orwell gives us, I offer this. Orwell would be so proud.

Friday, May 3, 2013


This Meme showed up:
So I have just a few things to say about yet another divisive and untrue thing.

First I want to say is this

and this

and also this

and maybe this.

There is also this to say just in case your meme is about hugging soldiers.
I might as well say this,

and maybe I might say this.
Do you remember now? 

And by the way there is this one for irony's sake

Come on folks with all we have to fix, you're worried about hugs?  Get a grip. Honestly...