Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Source Of The Nile

On Facebook, I posted a pic indicating the need to check facts before reposting.  Sorry, I can't figure out how to paste it here.

A friend reponded with the insightful query, why should my sources be trusted and his not?  I responded:

My friend, and you are my friend, you have a good heart and I need you to keep me informed of other opinions.  But when I repost, I first check multiple sources, including nonpartisan.  Don't get upset, but your sources are all partisan, right wing party organs which have been caught in factual errors again and again.  From my point of view, you are trusting the right wing equivalent of Pravda and the Daily Worker.  When a left wing source says something, I check it with nonpartisan sources. I don't trust liberals any more than those of conservatives, I only repost their claims when they are confirmed.

You might be surprised to learn that my liberal friends sometimes are upset by my stances.  Sometimes I am opposed to left wing democratic positions.  I am apalled, for example at the silliness of many university leaders in pandering to the childish urge to make the world look pretty.  We have a right to free speech, not to prettiness. I oppose hate crime legislation.  While some feminists are reasonable, some are hate mongering bigots. I have dear friends who are tolerant atheists, but I can't stand arrogant extremist New Atheists.  I could go on, but honestly, I am neither consistently liberal or conservative.  I try to use facts to make a fair judgement in each case.  

I admit to being an old conservative, insofar as I am a conservative.  I did, and still do, like Ike.  The new conservatives strike me as similar to the New Atheists.  Smug, self satisfied, and uninterested in facts.

In short, the liberal organizations who generate the posts I repost are not my source. I fact check them because I don't trust them to be accurate and only repost what is confirmed, the rest I ignore.

Let me end by noting that lately I have seen a number of individuals posting demands that either the reader agree with them or defriend them.  This appalls me.  You and I disagree and we discuss those disagreements.  You keep me thinking and make me defend my positions with thoughtfulness and care.  This is a good thing.  Keep the dialogue flowing.  Keep talking.  Shutting someone up by shutting them out just makes you isolated and rigid.  Above all, let us remain friends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Mourn The Lost

Oprah Winfrey, on the late show with Stephen Colbert, told the story of an aboriginal elder:

Actually, my favorite story is about an aboriginal grandfather who trying to teach his grandson what he calls the Song Line. Now I never heard of the Song Line, but that's what they believe; that they were sung into existence. And he's teaching the Song Line and he's watching his grandson as he's passing along the story of their ancestral 50,000-year-old history.  He says, "I have to pass these words onto my grandson, otherwise he won't know who he is." 

That to me is so true. That if you don't have your grandmothers and your mothers and your grand fathers telling you who you are, where you've come from, then you will be lost. And he says, "I have to pass this onto my grandson, so he will not be lost." 

My four lost grandchildren, I love you and always will.  You loss will always be mine.

Sent from my iPhone


So the Christmas tree is more or less straight. It was purchased the night before last and brought in and set up as best we could. As usual it didn't get even close to straight until next day when James came over and straightened it out for us. It's turned into something of a Christmas tradition. Not deliberately. We really did try to make it stand straight  ourselves. We just failed at it.  At least I had three of the grandkids come along with me when we got the tree though. That's important.

Them Ayrabs Is All Prejudiced!

On C-SPAN yesterday, Lorenzo Venido, a thoughtful and intelligent man, was presenting a fact based analysis of American ISIS sympathizes. An angry conservative called in and said, "OK, listen to me! This guy here, he's Arabian, right?" The interviewer responded, "He says he's Italian.  From Italy."

I don't think there's a need to say anything more.

Monday, December 7, 2015

We Are The Fascisti, We Fight The Liberali

Note:  One of the marching songs of the Black Shirts declared, "We are the fascisti, we fight the communisti!"

A post circulating on the Internet displays Fox news commentator Judge Jeanine Pirro making a series of points.  One individual posted it with the comment "This is exactly what I have been telling you! Now get off your fuckin knees and man up to defend our way of life!"

My friend Bobby reposted it with his own series of comments which I have included here:
Okay, I am starting to get nervous that this kind of fascist lunacy actually gets national coverage and enjoys viewer support. The righteous indignation, fearing all Muslims, and mocking liberals, and Obama is common, but the intensity makes me worry about the risk of political and civil overreaction.

"They're here...We are fighting for the very survival of this country and our way of life. You need to make a plan, how you will protect yourself, your family and your kids."

The plan includes:
1) Everyone get a gun any way possible. For your very survival and 2nd amendment. Apparently, if you don't have a gun, you are more likely to get attacked by Islamic terrorists.
2) Weaponize local police. As if the police were somehow ill-equipped to handle recent mass shootings.
3) Close all borders. "Pure and simple." "These people [muslims] do not have a right to be here. End of story."
4) Stop all/any refugee settlement. "We are a nation founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic." Do not let Muslims in. THE enemy is Islamic terrorists, and that we should assume all Muslims are like this (3:45). Muslims now get special privileges that 'we' don't. "The plan is to shut us up." Apparently the 2nd amendment is important, but the 1st amendment for 2.5 million Americans isn't.
5) "If we are stopped from saying something against Mohammed (we aren't) or Muslims in general, then Sharia Law is already here. We are living in dangerous times... The Jackals are at the door."

I can't even make this up. Apparently, if you disagree her, you are worse than unpatriotic; you yourself are dangerous to the nation.

My friend Nick added the following comment:

This is the best thing I've read on Trump and fascism:

"America, thanks to Trump, has now reached that fork in the road where it must choose down which path its future lies – with democracy and its often fumbling ministrations, or with the appealing rule of plutocratic authoritarianism, ushered in on a tide of fascistic populism. For myself, I remain confident that Americans will choose the former and demolish the latter – that Trump’s candidacy will founder, and the tide of right-wing populism will reach its high-water mark under him and then recede with him.

What is most troubling, though, is the momentum that Trump’s candidacy has given that tide. He may not himself lack any real ideological footing, but he has laid the groundwork for a fascist groundswell that could someday be ridden to power by a similarly charismatic successor who is himself more in the mold of an ideological fascist. And it doesn’t take a very long look down the roll of 2016 Republican candidates to find a couple of candidates who might fit that mold.

Trump may not be fascist, but he is empowering their existing elements in American society; even more dangerously, his Tea Party brand of right-wing populism is helping them grow their ranks, along with their potential to recruit, by leaps and bounds. Not only that, he is making all this thuggery and ugliness seem normal. And that IS a serious problem."

My friend Susan made a different, but apropos, post which quoted a news report:
The Nevada Republican who sent out a Christmas card featuring armed toddlers has put her proverbial foot in her mouth once again – this time in a much more offensive fashion. Michele Fiore, Assemblywoman of the Fourth District, when asked by a Las Vegas radio show about why she refused to sign a statement by Republicans opposing the resettlement of Syrian refugees, indicated it didn’t go far enough for her:
“What–are you kidding me? I’m about to fly to Paris and shoot ‘em in the head myself! I am not OK with Syrian refugees. I’m not OK with terrorists. I’m OK with putting them down, blacking them out, just put a piece of brass in their ocular cavity and end their miserable life. I’m good with that.”
Remember, this is from an elected member of a United States legislative body!

My comment:
Some years back, my oldest grandson and I were having one of our philosophic/political discussions. As I pulled up to stop at the corner of Thunderbird and Dale Evans Parkway, I was making the point that when people get frightened they act in 
a totally irrational manner.  I told him that it hadn't happened in his lifetime, yet. But that something would happen sooner or later and he would see just how insane, self-destructive, and foolish his fellow humans could be.  I told him that as hard as it was to believe, he would will see millions of his fellow Americans acting like terrified chimpanzees; running screaming through the jungle, waving a big stick at anything that comes near them.
I told him that I didn't expect it anytime soon, but that it would come, because bad things happen and people's reactions are so very predictable. It wasn't too much later that 9/11 took place, and I was proven to be correct.

After 9/11, he and I were standing together in the Barstow DMV line. We were again discussing political issues, especially 9/11 and what was an appropriate response. I told him that, quite honestly, I was more afraid of the Bush administration than I was of the terrorists.  The worst the terrorists could  do was kill me. However, I added,  I thought the Bush administration was trying to enslave me, my family, and the rest of the country.  The Patriot Act, illegal spying on American citizens, waterboarding, special rendition, and a whole host of government policies seemed to me to be clearly taking America away from freedom and into a police state.

I got a lot of dirty looks from other people in line. I still hope that one or two of them thought about what I had to say and reconsidered their positions. But I doubt it.

I am very troubled by the levels of hate in America today, but I know that they are being promoted largely by Right Wing Conservatives who I do not think will actually succeed in electing a president. I believe the danger was greater under Bush than it is today. That is, the danger of America turning fascist. I do believe the danger of Right Wing terrorism is now higher than it has been in decades. It may become as dangerous and as deadly, possibly even more deadly, than left-wing terrorism in the late 60s and early 70s.
Just today on C-SPAN a caller whined and cried and complained about how Republicans are never listened to by the government. Somehow he forgot the fact that the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress, a large majority of the federal courts, the majority of state governorships, a majority of state legislatures…but poor pitiful Republicans! Nobody in government listens to them. What he actually means, of course, is that Republicans don't get their way every single time, no matter what. Republicans want a Republican dictatorship in America. A conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical, Christian Republican dictatorship. 

While I feared it might happen if the next president after Bush Junior was also dominated by the right wing, I do not fear that now. In spite of the large number of Americans who support Trump, FOXNews, and their fellow travelers, most Americans do not.

Just as I do not fear that ISIS will take over America, I do not fear that these homegrown radicals will take over America. But just as I fear that Lonewolf ISIS terrorists will attack, I fear that Lonewolf conservative terrorists will attack.

So, Bobby, Susan, and Nick; I agree that the danger is very real. I just see it as a danger not of the government going fascist, but of the fascist elements rising to a point where right-wing terrorism dominates our daily lives.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, September 26, 2015

No Blanks Allowed

From a July Facebook discussion which I seem to have forgotten to post here:

I posted a pic asking why baking a cake is participating in a wedding but selling a gun is not, participating in crime. And added, "just think about it." The following dialogue resulted.

My friend:  Here's two differences Jim. .. 1. when a couple comes into a bakery for a wedding cake you know what the outcome will be. When someone comes into a gum shop for a gun you only know they'll be target shooting but nothing else- 99.9/100 will be legit. Street drugs-100/100 illicit&and 10/100 deadly. Car dealer - far more deaths than by guns. Abortion clinic -50/100 lethal. 
2. If you don't like one stores beer you go down the street for the good stuff. If u don't like service art one restaurant you find another. If you don't like the attitude at one bakery you go somewhat else. It's the American way . Right?

Me:  What if there isn't another bakery in town?  A public business must serve the pubIc.  A cake is a cake.  Attending or actively participating in a wedding is different from selling a cake or dress or tux.  If you feel so compelled to deny service to those with whom you disagree, withdraw from public business.  Your license requires you to serve the public.
Could a Catholic refuse to serve remarried customers?  All religions need to be treated fairly, with respect,  without the privilege of setting special rules for public business.  Being denied a cake is being told you are  unworthy.  It is insulting and brings a sense of shame.  No one would be shamed at asking for a cake or tux for their wedding.
Think how it would feel to be told your kind aren't served here, go somewhere else.  In some Southern towns it is entirely possible there would be nowhere else to go.  But so what? No one should be told by a public serving, government licensed business, you aren't good enough to buy my product.  It is a form of bullying.
All I ask is that everyone be treated the same.  If you choose a public business, then you have chosen to serve the public. If you don't want to serve the public, don't open a public business.  There are many alternatives.
A Jewish delicatessen can't be forced to serve pork, but it also can't refuse to serve Christians or Muslims what it has on the menu.  So your rights are also protected by my stance.
The same rules for everyone.  No special rules for special people or religions.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Darwin's Doubts

Smithsonian magazine posted an article about a letter from Darwin on the New Testament. The brief 
letter states: 
Nov. 24 1880
Dear Sir,
I am sorry to have to
inform you that I do
not believe in the Bible
as a divine revelation
& therefore not in Jesus
Christ as the son of God.
Yours faithfully
Ch. Darwin
Read more:

Interesting, but only tantalizing.  No clear answers.  Was Darwin, like Jefferson, a philosophic ( though not religious) Christian?  Was he fully agnostic?  A reluctant atheist?  A complete nonbeliever?  We know he felt that if there was a God, He was beyond human comprehension, but did he believe at all?  We still do not know.

"On the other (hand), I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can. Certainly I agree with you that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical."

Yes, not necessarily...but...What could you believe, Dr. Darwin?  What were your hopes?

The world wonders.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Where Lies The Danger?

A Facebook post and my response:

Dear friends, Some of you have challenged me (and that is a reasonable thing to do when one doesn’t understand another’s views) about my perceptions of the Islamic faith, and that I don’t trust the Muslim nor their motives. I have detailed some of my sources below, so you can  look them over as well. Feel free to let me “have it” if I haven’t come to the right conclusion; but don't just bash me, send some solid info pls for consideration by all. 

Some of the authors and reporters I reference below have life experiences under Islam; others write from the word of the Muslim god, the Koran, and from the words of Islam's prophet, Mohammad. It must be remembered that a religion’s true character is developed from its writings, not  from its practice; and so, the  friendly Muslim we meet in the USA speaks of love and tolerance, yet his Koran teaches quite the opposite; and we note how the practice of the writings is apparent in worldwide events. I am of the belief the horrendous events we see in the news in Arabia, Europe, throughout Africa and in many other countries is true Islam, and it will be coming to the USA when the Muslim faithful are strong enough here. 

Most of you are thinking people and will go to favorite preferred sources to see the other side of the question. I warn you, the pro-Islam world will not tell you the things my sources say: they have no problem lying to spread their faith; “I would like to quote to you what Mohammed [said, quoted in a] hadith  … that it is lawful to lie in three cases: A man to his wife that she will be pleased with him, or at the time of war because war is deception, or to make peace between the people. So in simple words, Mohammed taught his people, the Muslims, that it is lawful to lie to their wives, their enemies, and their friends.” (Dakdok, )

Many other sources are out there; please tell us what else we can read and see to convince us of the truth. From my viewpoint now, the existence of the USA is in peril if we don’t get smart, quickly.

     The sources: 
Usama Dakdok re first questions about problems of the Isslam faith

Dr J Vernon McGee
Thru The Bible Radio  faq re international ministries and broadcasts, especially those sent to Moslim countries

Walid Shoebat - former Muslim  terrorist, now a Christian who speaks on his new faith and the fallacies of Islam.  discusses end-time events in eyes of Isslam and Christian believers

Sharam Hadian - former Muslim, now Christian and a pastor
He is dedicated to reaching out and speaking out to let people know about the deception of Islam, its true goal that many are not aware of, and the threat of Shariah law which is the heart of Islam.
Founder of TIL (Truth In Love) Project ministry:
Chrislam Exposed
Hadian on Islam

Jack VanImpe; articles and videos of the weekly TV broadcast correlating current events with Biblical prophecy. VanImpe has a wealth of knowledge of Bible verses and interpretation, and also of Quranic verses and Arabic history.

Brigitte Gabriel- speaker, founder of ACT for American Education, and American Congress for Truth 
See Unmasking the Muslim Brotherhood  , a list of interconnections, finances, supporters and goals of numerous American Muslim support groups in the USA.
A speech :

The Holy Land Foundation federal trial of the fund raising by a supposed benevolent group that forwarded large sums to Hamas for their warfare.
Anti-Defamation League-,db7611a2-02cd-43af-8147-649e26813571,frameless.html
Wiki summary- 

Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh
Do a Youtube search for interviews
Book “Captive In Iran”, the story of the struggles of these sisters while in their native Iran, trying to live out their Christian beliefs.

Blessings to you today!

Let me open on a humorous note by noting that you might be surprised to find that ultra extremist liberal, God bashing, religion hating, Bill Mahr agrees with you that Islam is a particularly pernicious set of beliefs.  He may despise religion in general, but he especially condemns  Islam. 

As for me,  I pride myself on facing facts, even when those facts are distasteful or unpleasant to me. The facts in this case are that if you look at the attitudes of Muslims around the world they tend to be regressive, harsh by our standards, and undemocratic. Much of this is clearly due to the focus on certain Surahs and verses in the Koran.

➡️ It cannot be denied that the word Islam means submission, so the very name the religion adopts for itself suggests rigidity of obedience. (I was much disturbed when George Bush famously declared  is the word "Islam" came from an Arabic word meaning "peace".)

➡️ It is also true that parts of the Koran declare the government and religion should not be separate. On the contrary, certain scripture declares that the only legitimate government is an Islamic government.  

➡️ That many Muslims insist on the adoption Sharia law is as horrifying to many of us in the West as is the demand of Christian Reconstructionists to bring back stoning and other such Old Testament punishments and legal codes.

However, a closer examination reveals that there is as much difference of opinion on these subjects in Islam as there is between Christian Reconstructionists and more moderate Christianity. Most of the world's Muslim population live in poverty and a great many live under brutal authoritarian regimes. The unholy alliance of Ibn Saud and Ibn Wahhb created an extremely wealthy nation which uses that vast wealth to spread religious extremism throughout the Islamic world.

Muslims in the United States, on the other hand, are a well behaved, law-abiding, decent group of Americans.  They have condemned Islamic extremism. They have cooperated with the FBI and other agencies in identifying and capturing extremists who develop in their community. They have demonstrated they are just as good citizens as any other group of Americans.

I conclude that Islam, like Christianity, has its extremists, its moderates, and many in between. Unfortunately, I cannot deny that there are many more extremists in the Islamic world. However, I think this is clearly due to cultural issues such as poverty, ignorance, suppression, and propaganda pushed by governments such as the Saudis rather than being due to something that is inherent in the religion. There is much similarity between some of the most extreme elements of the Koran of the most extreme elements of the Old Testament, though most Christians regard the Old Testament as having been superseded by the New Covenant. Like moderate Christians, moderate Muslims and liberal Muslims do not hold with the absolute rule of Sharia Law or the need to force the conversion of their neighbors.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Prolife vs. Prochoice Forced Choice/False Dichotomy?

Posted on Facebook:


Friend:  One day, you'll be sorry your team is killing babies. It just ain't right... you know that ... and now you are reminded.

ME:  You don't see that we hate abortion too.  We want to stop it through the  proven methods, which can reduce abortion by massive amounts.  They are:  comprehensive sexual health education and free, or at least inexpensive, birth control.

The problem with outlawing abortion is that it does not stop abortions. If it did, I would probably support such a law.  Abortions have been practiced in every human society for all of human history.  Sometimes legal, sometimes illegal, the practice has never been successfully prevented.  Given the forced choice (forced by hard, ugly reality) of dangerous, brutal, illegal abortions which often kill both mother and fetus or safe, legal abortions which do not harm the mother, I choose that course which is least harmful.  In other words, I see myself as prolife.  We must save as many lives as we can.
 Always remember, I hate abortion.  I just hate the more dangerous option of illegal abortion even more.

I am sorry, right now, that human life is being lost.  I am doing all I can to minimize that loss.  The choices are harsh and terrible, but they are the choices this world inflicts upon us.  Like doctors in a triage situation, we each make the best decision we can and then we must live with the consequences.  I see no teams or victories in this.  I see only the eternal struggle of good people to make hard decisions.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The God Game

Bobby posted the following link to an article advocating the need for us to apply our knowledge of genetics to improve human health and well being.

Good article. I enjoyed it. Certainly a lot of good points were made, but I must agree with Anthony that it was rather simplistic. Real world applications would be much more messy and complex. Think about Dr. Bashir on Deep Space Nine, Kahn, the Sauron Superman from The Mote in God's Eye...  What is acceptable and what isn't?

Just a few comments:

Anesthesia for relief of the pain of childbirth was so controversial that there were sermons preached against it all over England. After all, God had condemned women to labor pains as punishment for eating the apple.  To prevent the pain was to defy God's justice.The controversy ended when the beloved and adored Queen Victoria used anesthesia during her ninth labor (which gave the world Princess Beatrice).

It is quite true that the Nazis did not invent negative eugenics and that other nations also participated, including America. It is less well-known that the Nazis (obviously before they became our existential enemies) sent representatives to America, including California, to study sterilization and other programs to improve the species. Shockingly, supporters of negative eugenics included Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, and a disturbingly large number of other famous individuals.

It is interesting to note that adult children sometimes criticize their parents for decisions they made.  (Why did you make me move when I was in high school?  I never fit in at the new school.)  If the parents decided a child's temperament, intelligence, and more, will the adult that results be grateful or bitter?  "You engineered my math skills and not artistic abilities? You monsters!"

Finally, we really have no choice but to play God.  Once you have the capacity to act, refusing to act is still making a decision.  If I can stop a murder, but choose not to do so, I am
morally culpable.  If we can prevent horrible birth defects and refuse to do so, we are deciding to let them occur.  Knowledge can be regarded as a trap.

Keep me thinking, Bobby. It is a moral obligation.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Burka Busters!

A new internet post which has been very popular and become a rather powerful meme in short order states that Illinois law has been changed to accommodate the demands of extreme Muslim fundamentalists. From now on, according to the meme, Muslims are we allowed to wear full burkas with only the eyes showing on their photo IDs, including drivers' licenses.

As you can expect, a great deal of outrage has been generated by this. In fairness to those individuals who posted it, it should be noted that this post is widely sourced from a variety of conservative "news" sites.

A couple minutes of Google checking uncovered the facts. I responded to the post:

  This would be truly awful if it were true.  Thankfully, it isn't.

1.  The complaint was filed by Sikhs, not by Muslims.

2.  Long-standing Illinois law, not Sharia law, was the basis of the complaint.

3.  One of the foundations of the Sikh religion is tolerance. 
Radical fundamentalist extremism had nothing to do with this issue.

4.  The face must be exposed on any photo ID under Illinois law. A Muslim woman is permitted to wear a head covering for her photograph, but not a face covering.

Please check things out before posting. Don't be gullible. The more awful, terrible and shocking something sounds, the less likely it is to be true.  And I can't help but wonder before I end this brief post, who's the fundamentalist extremist bigot?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Corona With Oak Leaves

The bravest thing I ever did was continuing to live when I wanted to die...unattributed Facebook quote.

"Wanted" is a poor choice of words.  "Needed to" is more accurate.  I refer not to depression, but to physical suffering, which can be so intense even oblivion becomes preferable to continuing the pain. Only my loyal and devoted family gave me cause to suffer on and endure.

My loyal and loving children and grandchildren who have stood by me and been my support and strength each deserve a Corona Civica...

The Civic Crown (Latincorona civica) was a chaplet of common oak leaves woven to form a crown. During the Roman Republic and the subsequent Principate, it was regarded as the second highest military decoration to which a citizen could aspire (the Grass Crown being held in higher regard). It was reserved for Roman citizens who saved the lives of fellow citizens by slaying an enemy on a spot not further held by the enemy that same day. The citizen saved must admit it; no one else could be a witness.[1]

Nature Red In Tooth And Claw

Tennyson's pre-Darwin observation on the struggle for survival is on target today. We have moved into the new home and we love it here, but there are still so many things to do. Everyone's overwhelmed and struggling hard to keep going and in the midst of this the children are forced to deal with their mother's battle to survive.

In the past few days she has been in and out of surgery several times with no surgery actually performed. As far as I can tell the problem is at once simple to state and very difficult to resolve. It seems that the situation entirely a matter of playing the odds. 

The MERSA in her leg is continuing to spread and cause more and more damage.  The terrible choice is to remove the leg or let the MERSA eventually kill her. However, her heart is in such bad condition that the anesthesiologist does not want to put her under for fear that she will die as a result.

So what is worse? What is the best bet for her to survive? It really isn't all that clear.  The kids are very upset with the hospital, understandably so. But I think the doctors are truly doing their best. The surgeon wants that leg removed so that he can control the infection. But when they bring her into the operating room the anesthesiologist sees that she is not in condition to survive being rendered unconscious. As horrible as it is for everyone, I hardly think the doctors are being callous about this. Instead, I expect they are agonizing over this terrible decision.

We have just heard that she is going into surgery once again. Whether the surgery will actually be performed and whether she will survive it are open questions.

To get back to Tennyson, when we look at the world we see its beauty. That beauty is real. But we usually neglect to see the ugliness that lies underneath it. We struggle and we do our best we try to find what joy and happiness we can. We are not wrong to do so. But the brutality of the battle to survive is always ready to make itself known.

Bless Me, Lord, For I Deserve It

In response to a Facebook post advising people who have been "church hurt" not to walk away from God and to believe that, in time, they who have offended will pay the price. 

If I understand the term "church hurt" correctly, this meme hits home.  Today's sanctimonious and hypocritical Pharisees are as full of their own holiness and as empty of love as the original Pharisees who so irritated Christ.  Some of the best and too many of the worst people I have known are deeply committed and loudly self proclaimed good Christians.  In some cases, methinks they dost proclaim too much.

Come to think about it, the best ones were actually quite quiet about their beliefs, it was their fellow congregants who made the noise.  It seems that at least some Christians have read Matthew 6.  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

As it happens, I do not blame God for the excesses of His hypocritical followers.  They are so busy blessing themselves, they have neither time nor room for His. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dickens Redux

Still continuing with the best of times and the worst of times.  Many things to do and a lot that is very confusing. On the other hand the house is ours. Registered with the government and everything. We're about half moved there and have another 21 days to get finished.

Wonderful time with my dear old friend Susan. She came to help and helped a great deal. But more important she gave me great joy reminiscing about old times. 
Also lots of time with the grandkids.  That's really hard in the middle of all of this, but it's also so refreshing to my spirit and my soul. It is family that matters to me first foremost and always.  

We split living arrangements for now. One of us lives in the old house and one in the new. That will continue until the old house is empty.
Tonight I'm exhausted. But at least I had the kids so it wasn't a total loss day for me even though I did nothing toward the house. And there's a huge list to be worked on tomorrow. I'll get there soon enough.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Progress Report

It's about time for an update.  As I expressed around the beginning of the year, I hoped 2015 would be an improvement on 2014. Last year had been difficult in so very many ways that a little bit of hope was more than called for.
And the first six months of this year have certainly been a time of change.  It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. A very appropriate quote.
Some of the bad things came to an end, some have continued. One or two have gotten worse.  
But it is also true that some very good things have happened.  All in all, a mixed bag, with more good than bad.
So it has not been an easy year so far, but I would have to say that if you look at the whole picture there has been, in some significant ways, an improvement over last year.
In a few days we will start moving. Officially the house is not ours yet, but everyone is agreed that there's really nothing that can go wrong now. It's time to begin getting out and starting a new chapter of my life.
Some of the things so long on my list and never done have either gotten done or are in the process of getting done. That is a massive improvement.
So, I must say that right now it looks as if this will indeed be a year in which old problems either got cleaned up, or at least didn't get too much worse (with an exception or two) and in which some new beginnings have given the promise of a future flowering.
So it seems that this year is living up to expectations halfway in. Things should get much better in many areas over the next few months, although for a few I'm afraid there seems to be little hope.
Clearly difficult challenges lie ahead, not the least of which is moving!  But we're definitely moving in the right direction in most areas and I am cautiously hopeful.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Too Little, Far Too Late

A post from a Biker group defended the Confederacy, claiming that revisionists were deceiving us all.  They declared that the Civil war had nothing to do with slavery.  I reposted and  commented:

This is a pack of bizarre lies.  Every leader of the confederacy declared, in writing, repeatedly, that the preservation of slavery to maintain white supremacy the one and only issue leading to their secession.  Google the documents they wrote and signed.  Either the glorious leaders of the South were filthy liars or slavery was the the only reason for secession.  Their plans to conquer neighboring nations to spread their slave empire are a matter of cold hard fact.

Revisionist history?  You mean accurate history.  You mean factual history.  Your "history" is delusional.

Later, a friend posted that " I am a firm believer that it is never to late to do the right thing" regarding the lowering of the Confederate flag. I added:  I understand the people who have emotional ties to the flag and want to cling to it.  I am half Texan and once I was as blind to the flag's historical evil as they still are.  I was bitterly resentful of the racists who, I felt, shamed the flag by using it it in their cause.  But facts are facts, and I realized that I was the one who was distorting the flag's meaning. It never stood for anything other than racism and slavery. 

1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

The South may finally be giving up its childish ways...we can hope.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Soul Sisters

Soul Sisters

These two battle flags share the same meanings:

-  They stand for White supremacy.
-  They stand for a slave empire.
-  They affirm that the superior master race has the right to expand that empire through war and             conquest.
-  They represent the historical heritage of a people and of their ancestors.
-   They declare the right of the master race to rule the world.
-   They have been used as symbols of rebellion against authority by teenagers and others.

Do I really need to go on making comparisons or do you get the pont?  

The Albatross Around Our Neck

In resonse to a Facebook post questioning why we allow Southern states to hold back the rest of us, I replied:

I am not one of those who suggests the South be allowed to seceed.  I have long advocated expulsion.  They are ignorant, lazy, welfare states which consistently take more money from the federal government than they contribute in taxes.  They embarrass us on the international stage again and again. They rig elections, prevent effective government, hate science, confuse religion with magic and superstition, and whine about how they are abused by those of us who pay their states' bills for them.

Let them go? No way!  Kick.  Them.  Out.

Friday, June 12, 2015

the Götterdämmerung Cometh

In response to this, I posted:

These are the same people who destroyed the power and grandeur of the medieval Islamic culture by turning it away from science and forcing it to submit to fundamentalist religion and its allies, superstition and delusion.  The current Islamic belief that the Crusades were the cause of the downfall is baseless.  The culture committed suicide by fundamentalism.

We may yet go down the same path, though I believe that the anti reality, anti science crowd has lost the culture wars and is now at the same stage as Fascist Japan was when a growing sense of inevitable defeat lead to the utter desperation of kamikaze attacks and training little children to blow themselves up to kill invading American soldiers in the blast.

To Americans, the Japanese fascists appeared so determined that some of us began despair.  But the victory was coming. The  kamikaze attacks were effective in spreading fear and a sense of hopelessness among Americans, yet the very same fanaticism contributed to the belief that the use of atomic bombs was not only justified, but necessary to save both American and Japanese lives.  I am convinced that while gerrymandering and voter suppression by Republicans may delay the downfall of their fanatic obsession, they will also make that Götterdämmerung more complete.

Books to read:  Downfall, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, What Went Wrong, and The Demon Haunted World

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Homeward Bound?

Time for a summary/update.  Due to our loss of her husband, Ed, my middle girl, Racquell, left Kansas and came home to California to take care of me.  While I love the home I have been renting for 17 years, I have been fighting to have essential repairs done.  I have begun to refer to my landlord as a golf course slum lord. Note: the home is located on the golf course and is in an expensive area of fine homes.  The list of deteriorations and damages allowed to accumulate by neglect is large, suffice to mention the carpet and flooring are at least 20 years old!

By combining her down payment (legally a gift to me) with my credit, we began looking for a home.  Several offers have come and gone, no point in reporting them.  We are now in   escrow, so it is time to let everyone know. 

The home is nice, but less than I owned in the past. Still, it will be mine and will be not only maintained, but improved.  The family agrees that since Racquell has paid the down and has taken on the burden of caring for me, the home will be hers if something happens to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sartor Resartus

In response to a Conservative Post on Facebook which asked readers to pray for our country to return to "her Biblical foundations", a friend asked where such  foundations could be found.  I replied:

Since the Founders of the United States were men of the Enlightenment (Jefferson denied the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ and every single Biblical miracle as nonscientific), you can find the Biblical foundations of the US only in the minds of deluded and gullible conservatives--they exist no where else. 

Sorry, conservatives, but reality is real and facts are facts. You may desire that  the US be turned into a Biblical nation, but it was never so in the past, in spite of venial politicians making false declarations to gain votes.  

I understand that you wish to make a third Covenant with God and become the new Chosen People.  That is between you and God.  As for our Biblical foundations, you have confused the 21st century United States of America with ancient Judea.  They are very different.

Notes on Sartor Resartus:  Archibald MacMechan surmised that the novel's invention had three literary sources. The first being The Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift... In that work, the three main traditions of Western Christianity are represented by a father bestowing his three children with clothes they may never alter, but proceed to do so according to fashion....

...Macmechan suggests that the novel provoked Carlyle's frustration and scorn due to his "zeal for truth and his hatred for fiction" spoken of in his letters of the time.

From Wikipedia.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

One Kleptocracy, Under Greed...

In response to a Facebook post which pointed out that much of what we feared would befall us if Communism won the Cold War has come true under capitalism, I responded:

Sort of.  I have no respect for unrestricted free enterprise, but the United States does not currently follow this capitalist ideal.  We are becoming less a democracy and more a kleptocracy in which the government serves the ultra wealthy in amassing ever greater amounts of our national wealth through corrupt politics, tax breaks, and immunity from legal restrictions or consequences.

Of course, it could be argued that this is the inevitable result of under regulated capitalism.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Soul Cutters

In response to yet another Facebook attempt at cleverness by self styled Conservatives, I posted:  At a certain point, you really start to worry about the emotional well being of Conservatives. They live in a constant state of self induced rage and terror.  They are the spiritual equivalent of cutters, who abuse their own bodies.  I wish I could help, but I honestly don't know how to heal them.

I mean, where could you even begin?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Segregation Now! Segregation Forever!

Warning! Lengthy quotes regarding race and diversity! Sensitive readers may not wish to continue! Nonracist members of superior races and cultures are especially warned not to continue!

Once again, I am amazed at the foolishness of my fellow human beings. Listening to C-SPAN today my attention was caught by a rather remarkable statement  made by an individual. In about 2 1/2 minutes I had checked his statement and found it to be totally invalid. Let's start with his own words:
HOST:  We are getting your take on crime and policing in your community. What is it like and do you think there's any changes that are needed.  Jay is in a suburb of Pennsylvania, Souderton, go ahead, Jay...

JAY:  The first gentleman, he mentioned the word homogeneity, And of course the most homogenous areas or countries are always the most peaceful. And always have the most trust.
Even though we continue to say this  incredibly Orwellian mantra, diversity is our strength. Which is insane...(he refers to his tiny homogeneous community when he was a child and emphasizes that his superior Pennsylvania German culture kept everyone well behaved.)
The culture and the race of a neighborhood matters. And I do want to say also that that is actually the words and the studies of people not just like me but you look at Robert Putnam, The Harvard professor. I wish you would have him on.  He did that in-depth study 2005 The effects of ethnic diversity on populations. And he's a liberal!  He's the author of a book called Bowling Alone and he didn't like what he found and he was forced to reveal it. And he found, of course he studied tens of thousands of people and communities. And he found that racial diversity… One of the major reason diversity casualties of it is a loss of trust...(He specifies various types of trust which are lost to the detriment of the community)… and at least we should recognize that and stop promoting this insane idea of diversity as strength when it's torn apart civilizations throughout human history. 

Why that's shocking! A liberal Harvard professor discovers that racial diversity is evil destroyer of society and tries to conceal the facts but is forced to reveal them!  Racial prejudice isn't prejudice! A liberal has proven it!  Only gullible fools believe diversity has any value whatsoever!  All it does is destroy civilizations!

That doesn't sound very believable, does it? So of course, I checked it out.

What did the professor actually say? Well here we have, in his own words from an NPR radio interview, the real meaning of his report:
Prof. PUTNAM: I do need to step back a minute and say I think that the - it's not merely a fact that America's becoming more diverse. It's a benefit. America will - all of us will, over the long run, benefit from being a more diverse, more heterogeneous place. Places that are more diverse have higher rates of growth on average and they have better cuisine. And it's just a more interesting place to live. 
So in the long run, waves of immigration like we're going through now and that we've gone through in the past and increasing diversity is good for a society. But what we discovered in this research, somewhat to our surprise, was that in the short run the more ethnically diverse the neighborhood you live in, the more you - every - all of us tend to hunker down, to pull in. The more diverse - and when I say all of us, I mean all of us. I mean blacks and whites and Asians and Latinos, all of us. The more diverse the group around us, ethnically, in our neighborhood, the less we trust anybody, including people who look like us. Whites trust whites less. Blacks trust blacks less, in more diverse settings.
So what he actually said was diversity, in the very short term does tend to create mistrust. But he also stated, unequivocally stated, that diversity is of great benefit in the long run. The bad effects are temporary while the good effects are permanent. I did not see any evidence that he tried to suppress his findings. Or that he even wanted to suppress his findings. Or that anyone forced him to publish them. In fact, except for the short-term effects,  his study solidly confirmed his liberal beliefs. He didn't find evidence that diversity was harmful, causes civilizations  to be destroyed, that some cultures and races were superior and others inferior, or any of the rest of the mental manure  Jay somehow managed to project into the study. I repeat, a study which actually shows how totally wrong Jay is about the entire subject. 

In fact, the professor went on later in the interview to state:
Prof. PUTNAM: Well, I don't know that I'm disappointed in the findings. I'm disappointed that it turns out it takes some time for us to get adjusted to people who look differently from us. And I'm a little disappointed that, as our findings become public, some people - some conservatives, some people who are racist, frankly, have taken comfort from my research. And they've made the inference that if we hunker down in the presence of diversity, it would be just great if we had a little ethnic cleansing and we all just live around people who look like us. That's absolutely not my view.

Pardon me, Jay, but your racist bigotry is showing. Please zip it up. I can't stop you from having such an ugly thing, but you really shouldn't wave it around in public.

Oh no! I have played the race card! When a man says, falsely, that races and cultures are different with some being superior and others inferior and that mixing them is a wicked thing which destroys civilizations, I unfairly suggest he might be a racist! After all he only talked about race while I, with malice aforethought, talked about race.

Sorry, Conservatives. Holding up a mirror that reflects your racism back in your face is not playing the race card. Your whole deck is racist.